Fairness for all – collective agreement signed with the Office of the Ombudsman

After three years of negotiations the PSA has a collective agreement with the Office of the Ombudsman.

The signing of the collective agreementThis is the first ever collective agreement at the office. The collective agreement replaces individual employment agreements that PSA members were previously on.

Delegates Andrew McCaw and Catriona McDougall, along with past delegate Margaret Marshall say it’s been a long journey, but the end result is a stronger organisation with better staff engagement and improved human resource practices.

“The collective agreement provides a balance within the organisation that didn’t exist before,” Andrew says.

Cat adds, “When we initially went to the PSA it was based on the fact that significant changes were being made to individual employment agreements. Over time, it became apparent that to have our concerns addressed in a comprehensive and rational way there was a need to work together. We began the collective bargaining process in 2012.”  

Margaret, who left the office last year, says, “There were about 10 staff involved at the start and while some of us had been in unions before, we had no experience as delegates or going through a collective bargaining process. I’ll admit, it was a bit overwhelming in those early days, but over time we were able to build a critical mass of PSA members within the office [40 per cent of staff in
the office are now PSA members] and our PSA organisers have provided support throughout.”

For Cat and Andrew signing the collective agreement is a cause for celebration, but they also recognise there’s more to be done. “There are still a number of issues we need to work through as an organisation, but the collective agreement ensures that we are at the table,” Cat says.

“This year we have had several people step up to serve as delegates which has been great,” Andrew says. “We have delegates in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch who are bringing new energy to our team and have different skill sets that will benefit our members.”

PSA organiser Nick Kelly says, “The collective bargaining process has ushered in some pretty big changes within the organisation. An important part of that process has been to help focus management on the importance of including staff in change processes.

“Collective bargaining is one of the main tools unions have to improve workers’ terms and conditions of employment. For that reason, the PSA is extremely pleased to finally have a collective agreement in place at the office – it really does feel like the next chapter for an organisation that is based on fairness for all.”