Post-election analysis, Transforming the Workplace, a union merger and gender equity were the hot topics at last week’s congress.
The PSA National Delegates Congress was held in Wellington on 23-24 September. Held just days after the general election, it featured a lot of analysis of the results and the implications for the PSA and the union movement as a whole.
PSA President Mike Tana, who was re-elected for a further two-year term, said that we could expect more of the same from a third-term National government: more cuts to public sector jobs and public services and the further erosion of workers’ rights.
However, he said, “the PSA will not be deflected its own agenda. We will continue to vigorously advocate for our members’ employment rights. We will continue to bargain hard for better pay and conditions for our members. We will also continue to constructively engage with the government, whenever possible.”
Helen Kelly, CTU president, said the union movement needed to develop a long term strategy, identify priorities and focus on opportunities where they could achieve results. Campaigns like pay equity and the Living Wage had significant public support.
Political scientist Jon Johansson emphasised the need for political parties on the left to collaborate and cooperate more effectively. Jon said he thought it was unlikely that Labour would achieve 40 percent of the vote in the future and coalitions would be the only alternative to National.
PSA campaign co-ordinator Conor Twyford praised the huge contribution of PSA members to the CTU ‘Get out and Vote’. The campaign has played its part in arresting the decline in the number of people voting which had reached its lowest level in 100 years in the 2011 election.
Jim Stanford, an economist for Canada’s, largest private sector union, Unifor, had supplied a video presentation, entitled “The Myth of Austerity”, about the detrimental impact on the economy of cutting public spending, and took questions from delegates live by phone from Canada.
The theme of Congress 2014 was Transforming the Workplace (TTW) and national secretary Richard Wagstaff reported on progress made to date in advancing the TTW agenda.
Delegates took part in variety of TTW workshops ranging from “Violence in the Workplace” to “Transforming the Workplace – the kaupapa (a Maori perspective)”.
Two important notices of motion were passed by Congress delegates. The amalgamation of the Southern Local Government Officers’ Union with the PSA was supported by Congress and the final decision was delegated to the executive board.
Another motion committed the PSA to achieving gender equity in its representative structures by 2016. To achieve this the executive board will be putting together a working group, which will bring develop some rule changes and bring them to the next Congress.
Congress bestowed honorary life membership on two former PSA presidents Keith Gutsell and Sue Piper, both of whom “had made a union-wide or national contribution above and beyond the norm”.
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