President's message - Happy new year to you all

Ngā mihi o te Tau Hou ki a koutou katoa
Happy New Year to you all.

Janet Quigley President column

Janet Quigley, PSA president

The role of public and community services is under the microscope – not just in New Zealand, but around the world. People are asking questions like: What services should be provided directly by the government? How should they be funded – and how well? What is appropriate for public servants to do or say, in their jobs or in their private lives? And, in an election year, what’s more important to us – funding public and community services or getting tax cuts?

As the people who work directly or indirectly for the state, providing care, support and advice for the good of the public, we see the impact of government policy on people and communities up close. We play a vital role forming and informing that policy, at the front lines and in the back office. We are experts in our fields.

That means we all have the right, and the duty, to stand up, stand together, and speak out about the things that matter.

Our ability to be advocates, campaigners, and active members of society is crucial for a strong democracy; but it’s under threat. Overseas, public service organisations are being silenced or shut down; here, PSA members face pushback and even disciplinary action for their personal political beliefs – or taking part in union activities.

We’re not just servants; we’re citizens and voters. We have a say in who leads our country, and how our public and community services are funded and run. We’re allowed to have political views, to join political parties, and even to run for elected office, as long as it doesn’t interfere with our jobs.

Our delegates and organisers are working hard every day to ensure our rights are upheld. We’ll be publishing guidelines about election activity for public and community services, and supporting any members who face difficulty.

That’s why we’re union members – because it’s easier to stand up when you stand together. The whakatauki I started with talks about working together for the wellbeing of all, which nicely sums up what we are doing.

Our election asks

We’ve surveyed delegates and members and created a list of the issues you think are the most important for this election year. The big three are health, housing, and wages. That may not come as much of a surprise! It’s much the same in public polling. New Zealanders are concerned about the cost of housing and how stretched our public health system is.

Our Board has signed off on a set of eight policies that we will be putting to all political parties. Later this year we’ll publish the results in Working Life so you can see which parties support strong public and community services – and make an informed decision about who to vote for.

Our local heroes

Wages are an important issue for PSA members. Pay rises in the public service are consistently lower than in the private sector. Often, we’re asked to tighten our belts and go without a fair increase to make strained budgets go further – to ensure New Zealanders get the services they need. We do, because we know how important our work is.

Our Stand Together campaign is highlighting Local Heroes – PSA members who do tremendous work, often in difficult circumstances, under pressure to do more with less. We can change people’s perceptions of public and community services with our stories – and when they go to vote, they’ll vote for a government that will fund those services properly.

We are all local heroes. Each of us plays a part in building and supporting our communities, providing care and advice, managing important public assets – ensuring people can live their lives without worrying about the fundamentals.

Let’s show our pride and stand tall together.

Haere ora, Haere Pai
Go with wellness, go with care