Presidential candidates


Meet your presidential candidates for 2016.

The election will be at Congress 2016, and your delegates will vote on your behalf. Take this time now to read about the candidates and talk with your delegate about your preferences.

Candidates for PSA president

There are four candidates for PSA President, listed alphabetically by surname: Andy Colwell, Benedict Ferguson, Janet Quigley, and Peter Robertshaw.

IMG 2144Andy Colwell

Kia ora koutou,

I grew up in a politically active family that had strong union values. Fairness and acting together to achieve a better life were principles that were ingrained in me. My mother has been a particular influence, spending much of her 90 years standing up and fighting for women’s rights. I have been a trade union member all my working life.

I am a community mental health social worker and live in West Auckland with my partner and two teenage children. I am an Executive Board member, current Treasurer, and Co-convenor of the DHB Sector and National Mental Health Committees.

Through-out my union life I have supported delegates and members to stand up on issues and engage with the employer. For example I played an active role in raising health and safety issues at the ADHB acute inpatient mental health unit. It received media attention, questions in parliament and resulted in a mediated settlement to the benefit of members. This action led me to help set up the National Mental Health Committee.

I also played a lead role in the DHB industrial dispute in Auckland this year. I was involved in the planning of our industrial action and was a spokesperson for the union on the radio and television. It was great to watch members who had never taken industrial action before begin to understand the strength and possibilities of our union. Through members action we have maintained our core conditions and have awoken a potential force in our region.

It is clear that traditional structures and roles of public services are under attack through underfunding and privatisation. We need to demand better for our members and for all people who access public services. We need to organise and campaign in different ways to continue to grow our union’s influence.

To ensure we are up for this challenge, I propose the union undertakes a ‘warrant of fitness’. Let’s really look at how we can maximise our influence and resources and re-focus them, if needed, to make the most of opportunities. We will then be in a stronger position to get members involved, increase our bargaining strength, and be better able to campaign on key issues. Our union will also be better able to deliver on our strategic goals of transforming our workplaces, building our union, advocating for strong, innovative and effective public and community services and equal pay.

Benedict FergusonBenedict Ferguson

Kia ora koutou,

Why am I standing for president?

1. For the PSA to be seen as a progressive union that is relevant to all workers;

We need to build on the great work done with getting our brand out there. I want all working people, both members and non-members, to recognise the PSA brand and know we stand for:

• Equal pay for work of equal value;
• Inclusive workplace so that Māori workers can fully contribute and be respected for their contribution;
• Transforming our workplaces;
• Influencing the political landscape;
• Properly funded innovative public and community services.

2. For our membership to grow and try new approaches to recruitment;

We need to be a resilient and sustainable union. We know the importance of strength in numbers, so we all need to play our part in promoting the PSA.

In my view, it’s a simple equation: more members = more delegates = more resource to organise our workplaces. We need to be bold with our recruitment strategies and try new approaches, including learning from other organisations.

3. To inspire members to become active and feel a part of the union movement;

I want to inspire our 62,000 members to each spend 30 minutes of their time talking about the PSA. Imagine what sort of impact this could have on all of our working lives. Let’s use technology to reach out and engage with our membership. Let’s continue to grow and develop our networks.

4. To truly recognise our hard working delegates as workplace leaders and to empower them to stand up for our rights at work;

Let’s thank our delegates, not just once, but on a regular basis. Shine a light on the fantastic work they do day after day. Let’s support them together, to grow and develop their skill base and to increase their knowledge and experience. Let’s promote delegates as workplace leaders. Let’s give them the confidence to stand up for workers’ rights.

5. Good governance

Every organisation needs good governance. I have previously sat on the PSA executive board and have a clear understanding of what is required as a board member, and role of the president:

• Setting the strategic direction;
• Ensuring an effective governance culture;
• Accountability;
• Compliance.

That’s enough from me.

Janet QuigleyJanet Quigley

Ngā mihi kia koutou katoa

I am a health promoter with the Community and Public Health Team in Timaru where I live with Robin, my supportive husband of many years. I have been a PSA member and activist all my working life, and an active workplace delegate for most of this time. For more than 20 years I have been on the DHB sector committee, including 10 years as sector convenor and on the Executive Board with 3 years as vice president.

I have represented PSA and the Asia Pacific Region of our global union federation, Public Services International, in several leadership roles, including vice-chair of PSI World Women’s committee.

For the past 6 years I have been convenor of the Women’s Network, where I have been active in building the network, supporting and leading initiatives to improve women’s representation in PSA leadership, getting better bargaining outcomes for women members, and the equal pay and paid parental leave campaigns.

All of this experience has given me a deep knowledge of how the PSA operates, of all its sectors, Te Rūnanga and the networks, of how to gain influence and how to drive important issues that transform the working lives of our members and their whānau. I want to see the worth of our delegates and members recognised; and that they have a platform for their voice in the PSA and workplaces.

My vision is of the PSA delivering a better working life for all our members, standing up for social justice and fairness for all New Zealanders. There are many challenges ahead, not least the 2017 general election, where we must use our collective strength and strategic capability to tell the compelling story of how workers’ employment rights have been eroded, how women do not yet have equal pay or workplace equality, and how privatisation has impacted on services and jobs.

I will bring my skills, energy, vision and passion to work alongside members in all our sectors, rūnanga, networks, the staff and board to ensure that as a union we continue to strengthen, that we challenge government and employers on issues that affect our diverse membership, empowering members to stand together and confront policies that fail to provide us with a fair and safe work environment where we are valued and can prosper.

It will be my privilege to serve as your president.

Nāku noa, nā
Janet Quigley

Peter Robertshaw2Peter Robertshaw

My name is Peter Robertshaw.

I was born in Yorkshire, England and moved to New Zealand in 2005.

The majority of my working life has been in the justice sector, having served in the Metropolitan Police and practised as a solicitor in the UK, specialising in Criminal Defence and Employment Law.

I have also worked as a cook, a multidrop delivery driver, as a hospital technician and an insurance salesman.

In January 2006 I joined the Ministry of Justice, my first job in New Zealand, and I have worked in that organisation ever since. I became a delegate shortly after arriving as I wished to continue with my advocacy on behalf of others.

I am a workplace delegate, first and foremost. The workplace, and grassroots members, are the heart and soul of our union.

I have a passion for people’s rights and have been fortunate to represent my colleagues and fellow union members as a local, national, and sector delegate, and on the executive board. I am currently the convenor of the Public Service Sector Committee and vice president of the PSA. I believe I have a sound knowledge of the union, and our operations from bottom to top.

I am a passionate advocate on behalf of members and believe I have the right qualities to lead this organisation through the testing times ahead, which is why I now stand for the role of president.

We are the biggest and most progressive union in New Zealand. I want to keep that spirit of progression moving. If I am elected, I will encourage much more participation from the grassroots level in matters which are put into practice by the Executive Board on their behalf and the Secretariat who implement it. Our union is our membership.

I look forward to serving in whichever way best helps members and the union.