PSA News - August 2016

Here's the latest monthly round-up from the PSA.

Meet your candidates for PSA president

Candidates for PSA presidentEvery second year, at PSA Congress, the congress delegates elect a PSA president to lead our union. This year, we have four candidates who have been nominated for this role: Andy Colwell, Benedict Ferguson, Janet Quigley and Peter Robertshaw.

On the PSA website you can find candidate statements from each of them, detailing their thoughts, experiences and why they think they are best suited for the role. Each candidate has also provided an email address and phone number and are happy to answer your questions.

Please feel free to tell your delegates who you want them to vote for at PSA Congress, to be held at Te Papa in Wellington on September 20th and 21st.

Equal Pay Everyone Wins Poster webEqual pay - it's time

Our Action Station petition is going strong, nearing in on 10,000 signatures. If you haven't signed it yet, make sure you do and let John Key and his cabinet know equal pay's time is now.

Sign the petition now!

How does your workplace measure up? You can use the Human Rights Commission's equality tracker to monitor fairness at work.

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori

On July 4 we joined in with the celebratory parade to mark the beginning of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori language week) in Wellington.

Te Wiki o te Reo Maori parade webThe march was led by two specially produced Te Reo Māori banners and we wore awesome new Te Reo Māori equal pay hoodies. Ka rawe (awesome)!

View the full photo set on our website.

10 Great Reasons webPSA in your office

Do you have some empty wall space that needs filling? Or some old posters that need updating? Consider the PSA's poster range for all your office decorating needs! From sharp and sophisticated through to fun and informal, our range of posters is constantly growing.

Can't print at work? Contact us at with which posters you're after and where you want them posted to and we'll send them to you at no cost.

Other news

Across the PSA

In the State Sector, following mediated bargaining, a proposed agreement has been reached in Aviation Security (Avsec). We had lodged notices of strike action. Avsec responded with lock out notices. The PSA and E tū countered with an application for injunction to remove the lock out notices. We also launched a campaign of media attention. Urgent mediation was attended by a sizeable joint unions team. As a proposed settlement was reached, all parties agreed to remove strike, legal and lock out action. Ratification meetings are now underway, and a result will be known soon.

PSA members in Avsec are very grateful for all the statements of support from across the union.

Elsewhere in the sector, bargaining continues in a number of other state sector enterprises, including ESR, EECA,  IAG, Environmental Protection Agency, NZ Fire Service,  Radio New Zealand and Careers NZ. These are at different stages, and are progressing well so far.

Following mediated bargaining, a proposed settlement has been reached at Public Trust. Ratification meetings are now underway.

In Babcocks NZ, where we are in joint bargaining with E tū, members have voted for a back-dated 1.75% pay increase, with a union-only benefit of 1 day of special leave each year.

We met, along with E tū, with the chief executive at Alpine Energy in Timaru. The meeting did not resolve matters, and an agreement has not yet been reached. We have suggested mediation to assist.

The Community Public Services sector currently has 34 collective agreements in negotiations with a further 5 agreements in the voting process. All collective employment agreements now need to be compliant with the newly enacted employment standards legislation.

The new law provides an opportunity, particularly within the home support sector, to make improvements to hours of work. However, we do not have a common view between the PSA and the employers on the interpretation of this new law. The discussions currently underway to agree a process for the implementation of Part B of the In-Between Travel (IBT) Agreement, provide some ability to try and sort out our differences.

For our Public Service sector, it is pleasing to see offers of 2% increase to the pay rates in both Community Corrections and Customs collective agreement negotiations. Members in each organisation are currently voting on their proposed collective agreement. It has been a persistent struggle to achieve increases that not only keep up with the cost of living but also address lower pay rates than the private sector.

We have had further discussion with the State Services Commission about the inequity of pay rates between many government agencies and the private sector. The reference in the Pay and Employment Expectations, that "pay adjustments must not lead private sector movements" is stifling government agencies’ ability to address these inequities at negotiations. Agencies are already constrained by needing to find the pay increases within baseline funding. The SSC says that the broader context for the agency needs to be taken into account. We will continue discussions with the SSC and with government agencies on how that broader context is taken into account well before collective agreement negotiations commence, for example in the four year planning cycle.

Collective agreement negotiations are about to commence in MPI, NZ Defence Force and MSD for Service Delivery and National Office collective agreements. Negotiations are also taking place or about to get underway in Environment; Transport; ERO; LINZ; Parliamentary Services; Te Puni Kokiri; Office of the Clerk and Health.

The Ministry for Environment has a new Flexible Working Policy, which seeks to establish both informal and formal flexible working arrangements as the accepted norm. It is a useful policy to refer to when agencies are  reviewing work practices.

We are looking forward to David Coats' visit to New Zealand in August and will be arranging joint sessions between mangers and delegates in some government agencies to reflect on engagement practices between the employer and the PSA, to consider how they could be developed.

In the District Health Board sector, the South Island Clerical MECA should be ready for members meetings and voting in September. Members covered by the agreement will be receiving individual letters advising where they have been placed on the new payscales through the recent job evaluation process. Organisers will be running workshops in the DHBs prior to ratification to explain the process including how appeals can be lodged.

Bargaining for the Midlands Clerical MECA has commenced. The PSA is looking to hold some mental health forums from October in the main centers to discuss and highlight the key issues facing service users and staff.

We are currently discussing with other health unions engaging jointly with the DHBs around bullying, including exploring an anti-bullying model that has been used successfully overseas in health.

We have been looking at a project to assist in measuring and managing workloads for administrative staff.

From 25-27 July the DHB organisers held their national organisers’ meeting in Wellington. The meeting is structured around the PSA's four strategic goals and will do some initial work  around developing a DHB sector plan including a revised bargaining strategy. Engagement with a sector committee working group over the plan and bargaining strategy will follow so that we are able to present a draft plan to the next full DHB Sector Committee meeting.

Our Local Government sector has been busy recently. In September, a two day meeting of delegates from all regions  will attend a libraries forum in Auckland. Libraries provide our largest single group of members in local government and the meeting has two main aims; to develop a union response to key issues facing libraries in New Zealand currently and to explore the legal and political context of our Worth 100% campaign and in particular focus on the issues of equal pay as it affects PSA members in libraries. Participants will identify how members can be actively involved in our PSA goal of eliminating their gender pay gap by 2024.

Also in September we will be holding our two day organisers’ conference in Wellington. This meeting will focus on building organising plans to support the PSA’s four strategic goals and begin the process of reviewing our local government bargaining strategy.

We have made significant progress in our first major round of bargaining in the Canterbury region since the Southern Local Government Officers Union merged with the PSA in 2015. Christchurch City Council are close to securing a settlement for ratification.

Other significant pay settlements have been reached at Electricity Ashburton and Christchurch Airport and negotiations have commenced or are progressing with another eight employers in the region.

Bargaining for the two collective agreements at Tauranga City Council commences in August.

In Auckland the main council pay adjustment for the year is 1% plus a further .4% after 6 months. A number of the CCOs are now in bargaining as are the leisure centres and museum.

State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme rules update

The State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme (SSRSS) is a voluntary retirement savings scheme specially designed for the State sector which is closed to new members. It is governed by rules which are set out in specification agreements between the State Services Commissioner and the two SSRSS providers, ASB and AMP.

Following feedback from the SSRSS board, and the agreement of the providers and the State Services Commissioner, the SSRSS specification agreements were amended from 1 July 2016 to:

  • enable first home buyers to withdraw employer contributions as well as their own contributions.
  • permit members who have reached retirement age to make incremental withdrawals.

A number of minor changes have also been made to update the rules to reflect legislative changes.

Briefing to Peter Hughes - new state services commissioner

The new State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes has had his feet under the desk for a month now, and he came to the PSA to meet our two national secretaries. Glenn Barclay and Erin Polaczuk gave him a Briefing to the Incoming Commissioner and spoke at length with him.

They spoke about the equal pay campaign and the PSA’s opposition to performance pay – plus the Jacks Hardware case, and the PSA’s intention to challenge agencies who won’t negotiate on pay during bargaining.

Mr Hughes is a former PSA delegate and we’re looking forward to a productive relationship with him.

Report back from the PSA Women's Network conference

The Women's Network's biennial conference was held on July 29th and 30th in Wellington. Women from around the country to come together for two days of keynotes, speeches by union leaders, panels on equal pay and workshops covering a wide variety of union material.

The theme of the event, Stand Together for Equality - Tū Ngātahi Kia Taurite ran through every event, with every attendee given equal space to speak, listen and participate.

Discussion at the PSA Women's Network conference

A new Women's Network committee was elected and will be meeting next month to plan activities and help drive the network forward.

If you would like to join the Women's Network, you can do so online via MyPSA.

We are local heroes

By now you'll read some of the excellent articles published in the last issue of Working Life, the PSA magazine. Did you know you can download a screen friendly version for reading on your phone, tablet or computer?

In our feature, We are local heroes, we celebrated the great things PSA members do to build a better society for everyone in New Zealand. One of the people we talked to was Sally Simpson, a librarian at Auckland Council. Sally works with children to support their reading passions:

“I did a special bilingual Matariki session for about 40 kids, they were just so engaged in the session, they’re from different cultures but they’re so into it,” she enthused to Working Life, “afterwards, the teachers invited me to morning tea, gave me a card and told me how much I meant to them and their centre and it was awesome, not in terms of ego, but to get that feedback and to hear about how much the kids got out of it.”

Stand Together on the road

By PSA campaign organiser Conor Twyford

As part of the Stand Together campaign, PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay and I spent two days in Auckland recently. We met with a range of members and allies – from physios, social workers and booking centre staff at WDHB North Shore Hospital through to members working in mental health; through to visits to the Auckland City Missioner, Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP), Lifewise (which runs the Big Sleepout) and the Child Poverty Action Group.

I’ve come away with a deep sense of how unsustainable the situation in Auckland is. Chris Farrelly, the new Auckland City Missioner, reports a 35% increase in the demand for food parcels just in the last 12 months. The number of people sleeping on the streets in a 3km radius around the Mission has doubled to 200.

At AAAP we saw a constant flow of people streaming in to get help with benefit and housing advice because the reality is that our current system just isn’t providing what they need, despite the best efforts of our members.

Our members in health and social services, for their part, are seeing and having to deal with increasingly desperate people coming through their doors - in ever growing numbers. WDHB members are struggling to keep up with population pressures caused by the poorly planned immigration – and I learnt that even some of our members are unable to put a roof over their own heads.

Our members are overloaded, under stress, working to cover unfilled vacancies, and effectively gluing the place together with goodwill. But they’re running on empty. This situation is completely untenable.

It’s not just Auckland. The reality is, wherever we go to talk to members, people agree that New Zealand is now being held together with goodwill and bandaids. As a society we seem to all agree that this simply can’t be allowed to go on; that there has to be a better way.

It reinforces for me how important it is that PSA members be part of the wider conversation about our nation’s future. We need quality public and community services – and our members are well placed to tell us what that would look like. At Congress we will be formally launching the Stand Together campaign to the wider public – because as far as we’re concerned, the election campaign has already started.  There has to be a better way.

Right to Speaking Out – events in Auckland and Wellington!

Speaking Out: A panel discussion on the rights and responsibilities of professionals. Join the conversation about why it’s important for professionals to recognise their right and responsibility to speak out – for democracy, good outcomes for children, and for good policy-making. These panel discussions are being hosted supported by various unions including: PPTA, TEU, PSA, NZNO, NZEI Te Riu Roa, and ASMS; and the NZ Association of Scientists.

Auckland: 11 August, 5pm–7pm, 303-102 MLT2, Science Centre, 38 Princes Street, City Campus, University of Auckland

Wellington: 12 August, 4.30pm–6.30pm, St John’s Church Hall, corner Willis Street and Dixon Streets.

Drinks and nibbles to follow. RSVP to

More information on the speakers | Facebook event | #RightToSpeakOut

All New Zealanders have the democratic right to participate in local government and district health board elections. Working for a council or a DHB doesn’t affect that right. Ahead of this year's elections, we've produced advice for our members on what you can do, and their rights.

If you're working in local government, click here to read our advice on what you should think about if you are running for office, or supporting other people's campaigns. If you work for a DHB and are thinking of running in the upcoming elections, or supporting other people's campaigns, click here to read our advice on what you need to consider.

PSA submissions

We've made a number of submissions recently to Parliamentary Select Committees on proposed laws and inquiries that would impact on PSA members and the work we do. This includes the Social Security Legislation Rewrite Bill which would make some changes to the law governing our social welfare system; the inquiry into the Social Workers Registration Act which is looking at mandatory registration, the complaints processes and more; Te Ture Whenua Māori Reform Bill which includes views from our members at the Māori Land Court as well as Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina; and a submission on the Children, Young Persons and their Families (Advocacy, Workforce and Age Settings) Amendment Bill which would mean changes for our members in the Child, Youth and Family part of the Ministry for Social Development.

Upcoming Consultations

There are a number of consultation processes underway or coming up that the PSA will prepare submissions for, and we are always keen to hear from members to feed into our submissions.  Consultation is currently underway on:

Draft Disability Strategy - consultation closes Sunday 21 August. The PSA submission will focus on the workplace and workforce issues for our members. If you wish to contribute to the PSA submission, please contact Sarah Martin via email. There is also a consultation website for the draft strategy.

There are a number of public workshops around the country now being run by the Office for Disability Issues to discuss the draft Disability Strategy, with more details and registration online. Please let us know if you are attending a workshop and then the issues that were discussed in your workshop so that we can co-ordinate that feedback into the PSA submission on the strategy.

Draft Health of Older Persons Strategy – consultation closes 7 September. The PSA submission will focus on the workforce issues for our members. If you wish to contribute to the PSA submission, please contact Dairne Grant via email. The draft strategy can be viewed on the Ministry of Health website.

The Ministry will hold public workshops in the main centres from mid to late August to discuss the draft strategy, with details and registration available online. Please let us know if you are attending a workshop and then the issues that were discussed in your workshop so that we can co-ordinate that feedback into the PSA submission on the strategy.

New Zealand’s National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership – the PSA will contribute to consultation to develop New Zealand’s second National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership. The consultation period runs until the end of August. More details are available on the State Service Commission’s (SSC) website.

SSC has contracted out the engagement with civil society, including unions, to a firm called engage2 – more details are on their website. If you have feedback to help inform the PSA’s participation in the engagement process, please contact PSA's Dairne Grant via email.