Local focus - May 2016

Welcome to Local Focus, the newsletter for PSA members working in local government.

Vote 2016 - Local Government NZ campaign

Vote 2016 - Local ElectionsWe're supporting Vote 2016 - the campaign by Local Government New Zealand to increase turnout in this year's local body and DHB elections.

You can find out more on the Vote 2016 website, and you can check out some of the ways LGNZ is engaging with potential voters on their Facebook page.

We've produced guidance for PSA members working in local government to outline what you should and shouldn't do in the build up to the local body elections later this year.

Remember: All New Zealanders have the democratic right to participate in local government elections. Working for a council doesn’t affect that right.

Stand Together – looking for local heroes!

Nominate your Local Hero and win!

Next month the PSA will launch Stand Together – the campaign to value our members and the work you do. It’ll help highlight the important issues in our communities and protect and promote excellent public services.

Part of the campaign will be about putting the spotlight on PSA members and the awesome work you do. We’ll be encouraging you to nominate your Local Heroes – the unsung powerhouses that make our communities great.

So we need your help! We need some great examples to kick off our campaign. Tell us about someone you work with who is awesome. Is it your local librarian who runs kids’ reading groups in their spare time – or the planning officer who bakes a cake for everyone’s birthdays? We want to hear about them. Send us a photo of them, with a brief explanation about why they are your local hero. We’ll send you a Stand Together t-shirt, and your Local Hero will get a box of chocolates and some Stand Together goodies.

Just email your photo and blurb (100 words or less) to conor.twyford@psa.org.nz.

Wear your pink shirt tomorrow 

PINK SHIRT DAY poster small2Pink Shirt Day is an international day against all forms of bullying, including in the workplace.

On Friday 20 May, we're encouraging PSA members to wear a pink shirt to work - take photos and send them through to psanews@psa.org.nz.

We've produced a special PSA Pink Shirt Day poster you can download and print, or you can visit the Pink Shirt Day website to find more information and order materials.

Local Government delegate forums

Regional delegate forums are being held around the country. Events have occurred in Dunedin and Palmerston North and are due in Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch in June. A date is yet to be set for the Auckland forum.

Each forum will develop networks of delegates across Councils and CCOs to ensure we learn from each other and glean new ideas to improve the work of the union. There is also a session provided by Strategic Pay on remuneration trends in local government and discussion is held on the PSA's Stand Together campaign focussed on the local body and DHB elections later this year and the general election in 2017.

New members needed for the Local Government Sector Committee

The Sector Committee is a group of delegates from across the country that oversees the work of the union in local government, and advises the PSA Executive Board of the views of local government members. Ian Cooper, who was the convenor of the Sector Committee (and sat on the Executive Board representing local government) recently resigned employment with the Palmerston North City Council and is moving to a job in the private sector. In addition, Ceinwyn Bannister, the women's rep on the committee and deputy convenor, has also resigned.

A request for nominations for the area 3 regional rep position and for the women’s rep will be sent to all relevant delegates next week. We ask all delegates in these constituencies to think seriously about putting in a nomination. It is an interesting position and will give the appointee a chance to see the union as it operates across the sector. PSA negotiates leave for the delegate and covers all expenses.

A new convenor and deputy convenor will be elected at the next Committee meeting on 14 June.

Calling librarians

Work is well underway to develop a 2 day seminar in Auckland for local government library staff, to be held in August. There will be a focus on library assistants pay, building around an equal pay claim. In addition we will look at the future of libraries internationally. The Stand Together campaign will also feature large in the seminar.

There will be limited spaces because of travel costs, so be sure to express your interest when the details are sent to library delegates in June.

Who works in local government?

The Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) has reported on some new research into the local government workforce in New Zealand and Australia. One third of New Zealand councils took part, alongside 79 councils in New South Wales, which allows us to examine some comparisons between the two countries.

New Zealand councils are understaffed compared with our NSW counterparts, with the 5.4 FTE per 1000 residents here comparing poorly to the 8.4 FTE across the ditch. We are better at promoting women though, with women managers twice as likely to be promoted in the last financial year as men.

There's lots more interesting data in the survey results, so have a look and see how your council fares.

Other news

As we build up to the local body elections, many candidates will be making pledges that have an impact on PSA members working in local government. Some of these will be good - such as pledges to make councils Living Wage employers Some will not be good, and the PSA has already started responding to these.

In the last few weeks, two candidates for mayor in Auckland have sought to make a splash with promises to cut the Auckland Council workforce if they are elected. In response to Victoria Crone's proposal to cut half a billion from the Council budget and to freeze staff numbers , PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay pointed out that "the difference between ‘back office’ and ‘frontline’ is artificial, because frontline staff can’t do their jobs properly without proper support," and that "there’s no question that Aucklanders will get poorer services if Ms Crone’s cuts are implemented."

Next, fellow mayoral candidate John Palino promised a sinking lid on council staff numbers, to which Glenn Barclay said "we cannot see how Mr Palino can deliver these so-called efficiencies without the quality of services deteriorating substantially."