The role of delegates
PSA delegates are at the heart of the way we work. They are elected by members as union leaders in their workplace and are the first point of contact for information and advice.
The PSA invests in skill-development courses for our 3,300 delegates around the country. Many say the skills and confidence they’ve gained as delegates have enhanced their career prospects. Some of New Zealand’s most senior public servants were once PSA delegates.
Delegates play an important role in building the union’s influence at work, whether it’s to do with improving pay and conditions or giving members a collective voice in the decisions that affect their work.
The role of the delegate is to act as a democratic leader and represent PSA members in the workplace. Relationship building is key to the role of a delegate – with members, fellow delegates and with management.
The PSA cannot function without good organisation in the workplace; that is sufficient numbers of members, active participation of members in the PSA, good delegate networks, and good engagement with management. It is delegates who facilitate both organisation and engagement.
- Encourage people to join the union
- Keep members up to date with union news
- Help develop a collective view on workplace and bargaining issues
- Help resolve workplace problems
- Involve members in workplace decisions
- Represent members’ views to management
- Support members who ask for help
- Link between members and organisers
- Make the union visible in the workplace
- Facilitate union meetings
- Connect to wider delegate networks
The union also provides an extensive delegate development programme, opportunities to meet and discuss issues, and extensive information resources.
There is plenty of evidence to show that employers also benefit from a strong, collective union voice. It improves the work environment and this in turn enhances productivity and the quality of services.
The PSA works to support delegates by:
- establishing regular delegate meetings;
- encouraging members and employers to value and respect the work of the delegate;
- being clear about the roles and responsibilities of delegates, including the plans and priorities of the union in a particular enterprise and the roles of national delegates on sector committees;
- ensuring delegate structures enable direct engagement with the employer’s management structures, and that delegates have clear constituencies;
- getting appropriate delegate facilities clauses in collective agreements – including time release;
- ensuring delegate development and training needs are identified and met (by the PSA delegate development team ) so that skills and competence are achieved and practiced;
- encouraging delegates to operate effectively as a group, supporting each other.