In Brief - December

CTU Conference

The Council of Trade Unions’ 2017 Biennial Conference was held at the end of October, and featured a variety of interesting speakers and topics.

Keynote speaker Armine Yalnizyan (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) gave her speech on the concept of the social wage, tertiary education and skill learning, and rebalancing the employment relationship in the modern working environment. You can read more in an interview with Armine HERE.

The Prime Minister also spoke on day one of the conference; outlining her vision for workplace relations under the new Labour-NZ First Government and praising the work of the PSA in raising important issues and advocating for workers. James Shaw spoke energetically about environmental issues facing the new Government on the second day of the conference, followed by a rousing discussion with guest speaker Sally McManus from the Australian CTU, who spoke on the “new low” of Australian Federal Police raids against two union offices in October 2017.

Ōtaki Summer Camp

Ōtaki Summer Camp is for young people who care about political issues and ideas. It’s a chance to hear and discuss interesting ideas, meet and get to know others who care, and explore local mountains, forests and rivers with experienced guides.

This three-day summer camp is open to anyone aged 17 – 30 years old (though if you are a bit outside this age range and would like to come, you are welcome to get in touch with the organisers). It takes place from January 19-22, 2018. Organisers include Nicky Hager, Kimberley Collins and Wiremu Demchick, as well as a variety of other volunteers who’ve been involved in issues of justice, free speech and the environment.

Some assume young people in New Zealand don’t care about politics, yet many youth care deeply about the issues affecting Aotearoa and the world. It is more correct to say young people have felt ignored and left out of politics. 

The camp will be welcoming, fun, and safe. Organisers have kept the price as low as possible and will provide transport from Wellington. All they ask is that people arrive in time for the Friday night festivities, treat other attendees with respect, and follow the code of conduct.

John Shennan's Retirement

The PSA said farewell to veteran organiser and stalwart John Shennan in November, who retired after 45 years in the union movement. John has always been a vociferous advocate for workers and a transformational political thinker, and he has acted as convener for Unions Manawatū for the last twenty years. John joined the PSA in 1972 as a delegate and went on to work as an organiser, famed for his tireless advocacy and oratory skills as well as his seemingly endless supply of bow-ties and braces.

John’s retirement function was held on October 31 in Palmerston North and attended by friends and colleagues from the past three decades. PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay praised John’s strategic thinking and planning, his democratic style as a leader, and his knowledge and invaluable contribution to the PSA. Kia kaha, John – we wish you the best.

Briefing the Ministers

One of the PSA’s most important functions that often goes unnoticed is its role in informing and influencing politicians about the biggest issues facing workers.
With the election of the new Government, the policy team in Wellington have spent several long weeks preparing Briefings to the Incoming Ministers (BIMs), which are detailed documents outlining PSA policies and concerns on all manner of subjects where new Ministers are being briefed – health, local government, state services, workplace relations and safety, among many more.

At present, PSA national secretaries are hard at work alongside the policy team in meeting with many of the new Ministers and offering a lay of the landscape on issues affecting members. These BIMs are a useful source of information about the state of the nation, and they will be available online from the PSA website over the next few weeks.

PSA through the ages

We’re thrilled that past issues of Working Life are now available to browse online via, which has collected together and digitised over a thousand issues of the magazine right back to 1914.

One hundred years ago from this month, Working Life was lamenting the impacts of the Great War and hoping for the safe return of public service workers from the frontlines. December 1917’s editorial described the PSA’s activities for the year as “considerably restricted by the force of circumstances”, and an article titled ‘Our Fellows with the Forces” gives a run-down on workers’ deployments and wounds sustained in combat.

You can browse the archive at

Contacting the PSA

PSA offices will be closed from midday on Friday 22 December to Monday 8 January, but fear not – if you need to get in touch with us during that period, our phone service will be active and an organiser will be in touch.

As usual, you can phone our Organising Centre on Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm or contact us through the PSA website:

From all of the staff at the PSA, we wish you a happy holidays!

Competition and Winners

Congratulations to the following winners of our September competition: Diane Craig, Jenny Arnold, Peter King, David Phipps and Emily Funnell. Copies of our Progressive Thinking booklets on tax and housing are on their way to you!

This issue, it’s a double whammy with two competitions and two sets of prizes on offer!

Briefs Tom Scott coverFirstly, we’re giving away a copy of Tom Scott’s hilarious and heart-breaking new memoir, Drawn Out.

To enter the draw to win, send us an email at with your name and phone number by January 15, 2018. You can read more about Tom’s book HERE.

For the kids (and the young at heart), our popular colouring competition returns HERE!

To be in to win, post us your entries to Working Life, PO Box 3817, Wellington 6140, or scan and email it to by January 15, 2018.

One grand prize winner will receive a PSA picnic blanket, drink bottle, colouring set and other PSA swag.

For four runners-up: a colouring set and some PSA swag.