Behind the scenes: Being on a Sector Committee – what’s it like?
Each of our five sectors has a committee, made up of elected delegates. These committees help to govern our industrial work, and support the PSA’s executive board.
For social worker Pania Tulia, social justice was a big part of why she joined the Community Public Services (CPS) Sector Committee late last year. She says she “wanted to make a difference for my sector, which is full of caring professionals who are often undervalued for the critical work they do. One way I can do that is by stepping up and representing my fellow workers.”
As a new committee member, Pania has been focusing on learning the role. She’s already started connecting with the people she represents and is looking forward to doing more in the future once her feet are fully ‘under the desk’. “I’m aiming to get all CPS delegates in my region together so I can learn how they’re feeling, what their issues are, and do the best possible job of advocating for them at a national level.”
She says being part of the committee has also driven home just how critical and, unfortunately, how at risk workers’ rights are. “There truly is solidarity in numbers,” she says, “that’s the only way we can protect our rights.”
Jacky Maaka is an experienced member of the District Health Board (DHB) Sector Committee, representing the Bay of Plenty. She saw the role as an opportunity to share with and learn from members and delegates at other DHBs.
Jacky says: “Bay of Plenty DHB has been able to model some ground-breaking stuff in recent years, for example the Sustainable Work Systems pilot. I think the sector committee is useful because it is a way for us to share these successes and learn from other DHBs’ successes too.”
Jacky has experienced professional and personal growth from being on the committee. “I used to be reserved and sit back to absorb discussions rather than get involved. This role has helped me to grow. It’s helped to me to step out of my comfort zone. It’s given me a voice and more confidence to speak up and challenge thinking.”
Eleanor Haggerty-Drummond, who works at Wellington Central Library, is new to sector committee life – she’s coming up to the six month mark. She saw joining the Local Government Sector Committee as an opportunity to learn more about how the PSA operates. “I like seeing the inner workings of the PSA’s campaign planning, and getting the ‘inside word’ on what is coming up campaign-wise,” she says.
Being on the committee has also enabled Eleanor to learn about what issues other local government PSA members were facing. “It’s helping me see the parallels and what we can learn from each other’s experiences,” says Eleanor.
Eleanor is learning a lot from other “very wise heads” on her sector committee: “It’s helping me contextualise the wider union movement and understand more than just what is happening in my own workplace.”
All three committee members say the biggest challenge of being involved in a sector committee is time. As Jacky puts it: “Whenever I go to committee meetings or any PSA events, I get all fired up because we always have such good discussions about how we can improve things for the people we represent. The challenge is
finding time to implement all the great ideas!”
By Briar Edmonds