Strike action still looms for 4000 Inland Revenue, MBIE staff after latest talks fail

More than 4000 Inland Revenue and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment workers will go on strike next month as a "last resort" following failed talks with employers.

Those taking strike action are Public Service Association members who will hold two two-hour stoppages on 9 July and 23 July over concerns about a lack of a "cost of living pay increase" and heavy workloads.

PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk said, "Our bargaining teams went to today's meetings prepared to talk - and to find common ground which might avert this potentially disruptive action."

"They were shocked and deeply disappointed at the employers’ defiant take-it-or-leave-it attitude."

Ms Polaczuk said their proposal was distracted "despite a $29 million operational underspend" which will be returned to the Government.

"Knowing the money is there, but IR simply doesn’t want to give staff a modest cost-of-living increase is insulting, particularly in the middle of the chaotic breakdown of IR’s systems."

Today's talks marks the third PSA proposal to be rejected by Inland Revenue.

ONE News can reveal a 23% jump in those earning more than $150,000 at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Source: 1 NEWS

At the MBIE meeting, the employer proposed for PSA members to work a longer work week for the same salary - an "attempt to resolve its much-publicised problems with pay and holiday pay", the statement said.

The PSA's MBIE bargaining team asked for a cost of living pay increase, as well as changes to address slow progression within the ministry, but Ms Polaczuk said MBIE's offer fell "far short".

"It's bizarre for employers to come to the table with strike action looming, and actually bring an offer that is worse for their staff.

"Our members at MBIE and IR are not highly-paid fatcats - at IR, a quarter are paid less than $48,000 a year."

Ms Polaczuk called next month's strike action "a last resort".

"They [IRD and MBIE staff] do not want to pass on the inevitable disruption to the customers and stakeholders who rely on their agencies every day."

It will be the first time in 22 years since Inland Revenue employees have gone on strike.


Strike (file picture).
Strike (file picture). Source: istock.com

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All Blacks legend Richie McCaw shares his top tips for success with young leaders

There's no question that plenty of kids look up to Richie McCaw and dream of the kind of success he's had.

So, you can imagine how stoked 800 odd secondary students were today when the man himself shared his own leadership lessons at the Kids with Character Empower Me Leadership seminar in Auckland.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp asked him what his top tips were for kids.

Tip 1:

"The first one that I really live by is that you can't go past hard work, if you think it's going to be easy, if you achieve it when it's easy you're probably not going to get the satisfaction of what it's all about."

Tip 2:

"Attention to detail, understanding of what it takes as not everyone knows, asking for advice or asking for help from people around you who can see things from a different way."

Tip 3:

"You got to have that drive. It's not someone telling you that you've got to work hard, you've got to really want to do it yourself and I think the people who have that are the most successful."

All advice that will help McCaw in perhaps his biggest challenge of all, becoming a dad.

McCaw spoke at the Character Empower Me Leadership seminar in Auckland. Source: Seven Sharp


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More than 200 people report adverse reactions to recently-funded antidepressant

Concern is mounting over a recently funded antidepressant, with a growing number of patients reporting life-threatening side-effects. 

Pharmac's switch to funding Enlafax a year ago saves the drug buying agency $5.4 million a year. 

It expected around 1 per cent of the 45,000 patients taking it could experience adverse reactions because of the brand switch. That's about 450 people. 

While complaints now stand at over 240 and climbing, support groups say the number of people suffering is far higher. 

In a small Bay of Plenty town, one highly experienced GP, Dr Christine Williams, is grappling with the problem.  

"I've seen people that had gambling addictions return to gambling and lose their jobs. I've seen marriages break down," Dr Williams told 1 NEWS. 

She says this patent behaviour is all linked to the generic antidepressant Enlafax.

"With this particular group of patients I don't have any that are responding to it, not one." 

The symptoms of 12 patients are similar to those experienced hundreds of kilometres away by Amy in Marlborough.

"Within two weeks of starting Enlafax I was having nightmares and feeling depressed, thoughts of self harm and suicide," Amy said. 

Medsafe is standing by its decision to approve the drug which saw Effexor-XR replaced with the cheaper generic brand Enlafax.

It says the brand switch complies with international best practice and that tests show Enlafax has the same benefits and risks as Effexor-XR. 

"They don't switch to a generic without adequate research and investigation," Dr Jan White of the NZMA GP Council said. 

Dr White says she has seen no problems from Enlafax at her busy city practice. 

But complaints about Enlafax are piling up. The agency monitoring adverse reactions to drugs has now received more than 240 complaints, many identifying side-effects like severe depression and suicidal thoughts.  

And a Facebook page set up by patients with adverse reactions claims to have logged 450 negative responses to Enlafax. 

They're experiences like those of Amy who says her GP wanted to increase her dose when she became unwell.

The mother of two only learnt about negative side-effects in a 1 NEWS report three weeks ago. 

"I'm not sure if I would be here right now if I had waited and stayed on it," Amy said.

Dr Williams said: "I'm sure it's the tip of the iceberg."

And with the prospect of more vulnerable lives unravelling, Dr Williams says it's vital the previous brand Effexor-XR remains available. 

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz
What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)
Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Pharmac’s switch to Enlafax one year ago saves the drug buying agency $5.4million per year. Source: 1 NEWS

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Mackenzie District pleading for financial help to cope with influx of tourists

One of the country's most picturesque tourist destinations is pleading for financial help to cope with a massive influx of visitors.

The Mackenzie District Council has applied for a grant from the provincial growth fund to pay for a feasibility study in Tekapo.

The stunning views see 4000 people visit Tekapo every day.

Its popularity has led to rapid expansion, with five hotels seeking consent to build and new subdivisions filling up fast.

"With the problems that Queenstown has had, we think we've got a lot to learn," Mackenzie District Mayor Graham Smith told 1 NEWS.

The council's applied for $800,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund to help with future planning.

It’s applied for a grant from the Provincial Growth Fund. Source: 1 NEWS


Napier rental squeeze leaves families in 'absolute desperation'

Napier families who are desperate for housing are applying for flatshares and one-bedroom units.

A Napier landlord who posted an advertisement for a one-bedroom unit on TradeMe got more than 900 inquiries within 24 hours.

"We pulled it because we got 946 replies... I honestly couldn't believe there were that many people wanting a place."

The one-bedroom unit in Tamatea was available for $285 a week.

Several applicants were families who simply could not find anywhere else to live, he said.

"We put in the ad that it was not suitable for families or children, but they were quite willing to say the kids can sleep in the bedroom and we'll sleep in the lounge."

Most of those who inquired were unwilling to fill in an application form asking for reference checks and a police check.

This helped the landlord whittle down the list to about 50 people, who were invited to view the property at an open day, he said.

"Even then you could tell some people were desperate, a couple of them had tears in their eyes when they were talking to us."

Another Napier man searching for two flatmates to share his Ahuriri home said he was getting dozens of calls and texts each day - and many were from families.

On four different occasions he had families turning up to sign a tenancy, when he was expecting a single person to show up.

"They led me to believe that the room was only for one person," he said.

Hawke's Bay Properties director Dee Penno was not surprised.

"There is just absolute desperation out there," she said.

"You get all these applicants and how do you pick? Which desperate person do you pick?"

More than 200 inquiries had already been made in response to a current TradeMe ad for a one-bedroom flat in the Napier suburb of Maraenui, available for $260 a week.

Prospective tenants would often offer more than the advertised price in order to secure a home, Ms Penno said.

"And I also have people that ring up literally two minutes after I've listed it wanting to see the house before anyone else, begging down the phone."

Proposed new requirements for rental properties, such as insulation and heating, would make the situation worse, Ms Penno said.

A lot of landlords had sold up over the last 18 months, because of the buoyant market in Hawke's Bay, she said.

And she predicted it would only get worse, if stricter requirements for rental properties came into force.

"It is scaring a lot of landlords off... and I think we will see a lot of Mum and Dad investors with one rental property saying 'this is too hard, we're out'," she said.

Hawke's Bay rents had risen the fastest in the country, jumping 14 percent in the last year to a record high of $480 in August, according to figures from TradeMe.

The number of emergency housing special needs grants given to pay for emergency motel accommodation had tripled in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne between the March and June quarters, Ministry for Social Development (MSD) figures showed.

More people were coming to MSD for help, just as it had asked them to, an MSD spokesperson said.

MSD usually saw an increase in those needing help over the winter months.

"A high proportion of the people on the Social Housing Register in the East Coast region are living in insecure housing - accommodation that is unsuitable on a long-term basis. Winter will be making things worse for those people," MSD said.

By Anusha Bradley

rnz.co.nz

A one-bedroom Napier unit offered for rent for $285 a week attracted 946 replies, some from families.
A one-bedroom Napier unit offered for rent for $285 a week attracted 946 replies, some from families. Source: rnz.co.nz