PSA News - December 2016

The latest news and views from across our union.

Have a great summer + win awesome prizes!

2016 closedown facebookThe PSA office is closed from 12noon on Friday 23 December until Monday 9 January 2017. If you need urgent support during this period, please phone 0508 367 772 as this will be monitored throughout the summer period for urgent matters.

If you have an urgent holiday home matter please leave a message on 0800 10 30 90 or call the caretaker directly if you have a booking  – these calls will also be monitored over this period. Please note that holiday home bookings for June 2017 will open at 8.30am on Sunday 1 January 2017.

Summer competitions

Colouring final2Win one of five summer prize packs including: PSA picnic blanket, beach paddle ball set, beach towel, drink bottle and mini rugby ball.

To enter: This is a colouring in competition – the image to colour in is available on the PSA website, and on the last page of the December issue of Working Life magazine. Prize pack for our four favourite entries, and for the best entry by a child (under 13). Entries must be received by post or email by January 15.

Win a copy of A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand by Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC and Dr Andrew Butler + a Free, Frank & Fearless badge and t-shirt (very limited sizes remaining).

To enter: Email with up to 300 words about why free, frank and fearless advice is important to you. Entries must be received by January 15. For more details about the book, see Victoria University Press.

worth 100Big win for equal pay!

After strong campaigning from PSA members and our friends in other unions and community groups, the Government has agreed to adopt the Equal Pay Principles that we helped to negotiate.

This is a significant step towards making equal pay a reality! Find out more of the details on the PSA website, and thanks to everyone who has helped to make this a reality.

Our work isn't over – sign up as an Equal Pay Advocate online or by phoning 0508 367 772.

speech bubblesEarthquake info

To keep everyone informed, and to learn from the experiences of our Christchurch colleagues, we have set up an earthquake support forum on the PSA website. You can discuss your situation and also talk with others in a similar position to you, and find out best practice if you're out of your regular office.

It is important that in times of stress that we get the support we need. It's always ok to ask for help. Your employer may be signed up with EAP or Vitae which gives you free access to someone to talk with.

PSA PlusPSA 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 mailed to and we'll send them out at no cost.

Also check out our office resources page for plenty of useful templates you can use.

New research on our experiences of work

The headline findings from this year’s Workplace Dynamics in New Zealand Public Services survey confirm what we have known for years: that we have fantastic people, doing their best, in workplace cultures that need urgent attention.

Access the full report here.

More than 14,000 PSA members responded to this survey, which makes it the biggest of its kind. It asked about our working lives – why we do what we do, how we feel about our workplaces, our colleagues and our work culture.

Three quarters of us agree public service is very important and more than half say we do extra work for our job which isn’t expected.

Disappointingly, 43 percent of us have been verbally abused by a client in the past year, with call centre staff, inspectors and regulators and social workers particularly at risk.

Thanks for telling us what matters to you

election asks2Thanks to all of the PSA members who filled in the survey asking what issues were important ahead of the 2017 general election. Above are the top 60 most common issues raised, with a number of common themes becoming clear.

This work will help to inform our discussions with politicians as we make clear to them, regardless of what party they are from, what the expectations are of the change that PSA members want to see.

Free, Frank and Fearless lunchtime seminars

Following on from our successful In The Thick Of It series of lunchtime seminars in 2014/15, our 2016 seminar series is on the theme of Free, Frank and Fearless.

On November 28 we had the privilege of hosting Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Dr Andrew Butler for a lunchtime seminar here at the PSA on their project proposing a written constitution for New Zealand.

Sir Geoffrey spoke about a written constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand and the role of the public service in upholding it, while Andrew spoke about the legal mechanics of how a constitution might work.

These two speakers were followed up by Dr Chris Eichbaum from Victoria University, who spoke on 6 December about the responsibilities of the public service, the relationship with the Executive, with Parliament and with the public.

You can read, watch or listen to the presentations via the PSA website.

Parliament to debate new supports for people experiencing family violence

Green MP Jan Logie wrote a piece of draft legislation which would mandate employer support for staff who are experiencing family violence. Recently, the draft legislation was drawn from the ballot, meaning Parliament will debate it early next year.

In the September issue of Working Life, prior to the Bill being drawn, we interviewed Jan about why this law change is so important. You can read the article online.

We've also updated our Family violence and workplaces area on the PSA website, with useful resources and information that you can use in your workplaces.

Working Life December 2016Working Life December issue out now!

The December issue of Working Life magazine is out now, and we've updated our web presence to make it easier to read it online.

Read Working Life on the PSA website.

This issue takes an in-depth look at the recent PSA Congress, finds out what it means to speak Te Reo Māori in the workplace, gets to know our new president Janet Quigley, and finds out what lessons indigenous unionists in Australia have taken from Aotearoa.

Surveys - parental leave and safer nursing

Parental leave: What do partners do?

Are you a father or partner of someone who’s had a child? We’d like to hear about your experience of taking leave when your children were born and for childcare purposes. Last year only 13 men in the public service took parental leave, according to SSC data. Yet we know many partners take leave around the birth of their children.

Here’s a link to a short (9 question) confidential survey about this. Please do share this link with interested colleagues. We’ll report back in the next PSA News.

Safer Nursing research project

Nurses on shifts, doing overtime, or working nights need enough recovery time to provide optimal care to patients. Overseas research shows that inadequate recovery between shifts and fatigue increases the risk of mistakes being made on the job.

Massey University’s Sleep/Wake Research Centre and School of Nursing, in collaboration with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, is running a project designed to take an evidence-based approach towards managing shift work and fatigue for hospital nurses. The Safer Nursing 24/7 project, led by Professor Philippa Gander, aims to improve health service delivery by improving both patient safety and the safety, health, quality of life and retention of nurses.

If you wish to participate in this research, further information is available in the release below from the Safer Nursing 24/7 project and NZNO, you can watch a short video here about the project, and the survey is available here Safer Nursing 24/7.

Across the PSA

Upcoming PSA subscription rate changes

At their recent meeting, the PSA Executive Board made a decision on changes to subscription rates, to take effect from the first full pay period of March 2017. PSA subscription rates are up for consideration every two years, and so they will not be changed again until 2019 at the earliest.

At Congress 2016, delegates voted overwhelmingly to align the highest band with the Living Wage, as a symbol of our support for the Living Wage campaign. This has meant that subscription rates needed to shift in order to ensure sufficient income to continue our union’s operation.

The proposed fortnightly increase to your PSA membership subscription is either 75 cents (for those earning above $41,184 per annum), 35 cents (those earning $18,970 - $41,184) or 15 cents (those earning under $18,970).

The Board is tasked with ensuring revenue is sufficient to fund all of our union activities, and to consult with sector committees and Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina. After looking at several options, the Board concluded that this was the only option that ensured that our union could meet our financial obligations for the next two years.

We appreciate that changes to the subscription rates can be difficult for some, particularly with many PSA members finding the rising cost of living increasingly difficult. However, our subscription rates are still significantly lower than many of our sister unions, and we must ensure that our union is financially sustainable so we can continue to win a better working life for all.

In the District Health Board sector, the South Island Clerical MECA has been signed and the process of implementation has commenced. Members have till 15 December to request a review if they believe they have been incorrectly placed on the new payscale.

This leaves the Midlands Clerical Meca has the only unsettled PSA agreement from the last DHB bargaining round. An offer of 2% and 2% over 31 months with improvements for some lower placed positions will be taken out for formal ratification meetings at the start of 2017.

We have started the process of planning for the DHB 2017 bargaining round with our DHB bargaining strategy being revised and a campaign around funding and workloads being developed. All our DHB organisers will be meeting nationally early in 2017 to prepare for member meetings which will be held well in advance of the commencement of bargaining.

Other areas of focus in the sector in 2017 will be advancing equal pay and the continued pressure faced by under resourced mental health services.

For our Public Service sector, after the first ‘quick bargaining’ offer from the Ministry of Social Development for the Service Delivery Collective Agreement was rejected by members, we negotiated a revised proposal of 2% increase to salaries in 2016 and again in 2017, along with a $1200 lump sum payment upon ratification for PSA members. This was a great result with over 90% voting in favour to ratify the Collective Agreement and an additional 400 members joining during the ratification period.

We are dealing with the aftermath of the recent earthquake, with many members impacted in some way. The Statistics NZ and NZ Defence Force buildings are uninhabitable for at least a year; others have been vacated for shorter periods. Our focus will be on ensuring physical safety is paramount, along with support for the well-being of members. Wellington delegates are invited to meet at PSA House, 11 Aurora Tce, at 1pm on Thursday 15 December to share concerns and experiences.

Drug and alcohol testing is being pushed by some departments. We need to ensure that policies being introduced are justified and where they are introduced, are fair and reasonable. The PSA has guidelines and information to support organisers and delegates when discussing the employer’s approach.

Our Local Government sector has a new approach to our bargaining strategy which has been endorsed in principal, and incorporates the four strategic goals of the PSA as the primary focus for bargaining activities and aspirations.

Key settlements include Tauranga City Council; Selwyn; Waimakariri and McKenzie District Council; and Waimakariri Pools. The negotiations for Waimakariri Pools have delivered real gains for low paid workers over successive negotiations, with the latest settlement moving the bottom two rates by 4%. The settlement for McKenzie District Council resulted in a major gain in redundancy entitlements with an increase from 1 month to a maximum of 6 months, the creation of new salary grades and a minimum increase on rates of 1.5%.

The Equal Pay strategy for our sector will be focused on Library Assistants in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and smaller local councils. Research is being undertaken on job analysis and possible comparators as part of the background work for equal pay claims.

The Community Public Services sector continues to be extremely busy. Intensive work continues on the preparation needed to implement guaranteed hours for the home support workforce. The information gathered from the pilots being undertaken in the Auckland and Taranaki areas is being analysed and discussed prior to being used to inform the 2017 budget.

The scope of information being gathered includes both the costs associated with guaranteed hours for the workforce as well as costs associated with training. The other large piece of work is the organisation of workshops to be held throughout NZ for all home support workers to explain the introduction of guaranteed hours. These will occur in February and March 2017.

The care and support worker equal pay negotiations are continuing with regular meetings between the Provider, Crown and Union representatives.

There are approximately 50 collective agreement negotiations occurring at any given time within the CPS sector. Some of the negotiations currently underway include Emerge, Access, HHL Service Managers, PACT, BUPA, Spectrum, Te Roopu Taurima, Geneva, Royal District Nursing, Mash, Waipareira Trust, Salvation Army, Nurse Maude. Negotiation dates for the HHL home support CA have finally been agreed.

Joint working parties are also occurring to develop improved pay systems within a number of organisations. Workplace violence continues to be a key issue within the CPS sector despite some good one off initiatives in this area. The Disability Safer Industry Forum initially showed some promise as a strategic avenue for a cross sector approach to deal with this. Unfortunately this has not eventuated to date. Until this occurs we will focus on individual employers.