Local Focus - November 2016

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

In this Local Focus:

Libraries hui a great success

libraries 1The Local Government Sector hosted 23 delegates from libraries around New Zealand (including two from the National Library) to a hui in Auckland on September 1st and 2nd.

The korero was focused on an equal pay strategy to advance the case for library assistants to be valued. Other issues discussed include industrial concerns like workloads, changes to hours of work, casualization and restructuring, with many delegates sharing their experiences.

A key aspect of the hui was a presentation by Louise LaHatte, president-elect of LIANZA (the professional body for library staff), based on the outcomes from a 2015 conference on the future of libraries.

libraries 2Delegates also participated in the scoping of the Stand Together campaign, the PSA's strategy for the 2017 general election.

The outcome of the hui was unanimous endorsement for the establishment of a libraries panel to bring together delegates to oversee the PSA's work across libraries. 

Local Govt Sector Committee (LGSC) meeting

The LGSC met recently to discuss the work of the union across local government. There was discussion on the changes needed to how the sector committee works to reflect a rule passed at PSA Congress for gender equity in our union structures.

Bronwynn Maxwell, the new PSA assistant secretary for local government, presented a draft sector bargaining strategy for discussion and feedback from Committee members. A 2017 sector plan was also signed off, with a focus on increasing participation of young people from local government in the PSA.

We also had a presentation from Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand's Lyndy McIntyre, focussing on the living wage work being done with councils. The Green Party's Jan Logie MP also presented on the current political environment with respect to local government. sector committee

Equal pay for library assistants

At the libraries hui in early September, delegates discussed equal pay in libraries. It was strongly felt that the complexity and value of the work our members do in libraries is not fully recognised and is underpaid because it is work which is carried out mostly by women.

Delegates felt that although the community loves librarians we still need to campaign to increase understanding of library work. They recommended a job analysis of library assistant roles and identification of male comparators as the basis for building an equal pay case for library assistants and senior library assistants. As a result the PSA has contracted equal pay activist Catriona MacLennan to interview 10 assistant librarians and senior assistant librarians in order to do this analysis. PSA delegates and organisers will be working closely with Catriona on this project.

Amalgamations and de-amalgamations

We're working with the Local Government Commission as they consider proposals for local body amalgamation in the Wairarapa and West Coast, and a de-amalgamation proposal in Auckland.

Our organisers and delegates in the affected regions will be kept in the loop throughout the process, and if formal proposals are made we will work with members to ensure the views of council staff are heard loud and clear through submissions to the Commission.

Our relationship with SOLGM

One of the major organisations in the local government sector is SOLGM, the Society of Local Government Managers. We are building a strong and constructive relationship with them, and recently PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay met with SOLGM chief executive Karen Thomas to further develop how we work together on issues of common interest.

Glenn and Karen discussed issues including improving dialogue between the main stakeholders across the sector; the Local Government Amendment Bill; and the difficulties faced in the rollout of the Vulnerable Children's Act.

Farewell Nigel Wombwell

After 31 years as a union organiser in the local government sector, Nigel Wombwell retired at the end of October. Nigel, who was the assistant secretary of the Southern Local Government Officers Union prior to their merger with the PSA in 2015, is well known to many of our local government members in the South Island.

We thank Nigel for his many years of dedicated service, and wish him a safe and enjoyable retirement!