Q&A: PSA wins right to bargain wages with NZDF

This month the PSA celebrated an important victory for members. PSA News talks to PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay about what the Employment Relations Authority’s determination, ordering the New Zealand Defence Force to bargain pay, means for members.

What’s happened?

After more than a year of tough negotiation over the right of our union to bargain wages for members, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled that the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) must bargain pay in good faith.

What did the ruling say?

The ERA determination supports the PSA’s view that union members are entitled to collective bargaining of their pay. It also sets an important precedent for other workplaces in local government and the state sector where some employers refuse to bargain pay.

Why it is so critical that collective bargaining includes bargaining about wages?

Pay is a fundamental part of employment. PSA members have the right to expect to negotiate pay rates as part of the collective bargaining process and have this included in employment agreements.

What does it mean for our people at NZDF?

This ruling is about fairness and transparency for our members - they wanted pay negotiated and included in their Collective Agreement so that they can have certainty of job progression and reasonable wage rises over time.

Won’t the NZDF case be appealed?

Yes – it’s highly likely this case will be appealed. But, building on from the Jacks Hardware case, the ERA ruling sets a real precedent in establishing a worker’s right to negotiate pay and have pay in Collective Agreements.

The determination states that the Authority "struggle to see how an agreement covering an employment relationship can ignore the essential element of [pay] from an employee’s perspective," and that "the Court would frown upon NZDF’s approach."

Who do we represent at NZDF?

Our members are the nuts and the bolts that hold our Defence Force together - the security guards, cleaners, cooks and other civilian roles. Many of them have not had a pay increase in many years, and they are looking forward to their union sitting down with NZDF in the near future and bargaining a collective agreement that includes pay.