Southern Local Government Officers Union


On 1 April 2015 the Southern Local Government Officers Union (SLGOU) and the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (PSA) merged.

SLGOU2

With the official merging of SLGOU and the PSA, we would like to welcome you into New Zealand’s biggest union. By joining together we will have an even stronger voice for quality services and jobs in local government and now support nearly 62,000 members in public and community services.

This page has been set up to help inform you of the merger and answer any questions you may have about the PSA.

Below you will find the proposal document, some frequently asked questions (FAQs), as well as background information and images.

We hope that this information serves you well but if you have any other questions please send them through to enquiries@psa.org.nz or call us freephone on 0508 367 772.

Employers where members were previously represented by SLGOU:

Advanced Metering Services
Alpine Energy Limited
Ashburton District Council
Central Otago District Council
Christchurch City Council
Christchurch International Airport
Citilab Holdings Ltd
City Care
Connetics Ltd
Delta Utilities Ltd
Dunedin City Council
Electricity Ashburton Ltd
Environment Canterbury Regional Council
Hurunui District Council
Mackenzie District Council
Orion NZ Ltd
Otago Regional Council
Power Store Limited
Queenstown Lakes District Council
Red Bus Ltd
Selwyn District Council
Sicon Ferguson Ltd
Timaru District Council
Waimakariri District Council
Waimate District Council
Waitaki District Council

Photos from the pōwhiri at the PSA's Christchurch office to welcome SLGOU members and staff.

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The fees for PSA members at worksites formerly represented by SLGOU will change on July 1 2016, as part of the transitional arrangements agreed during the merger.

Fee band

Fortnightly membership fees from July 1, 2016

Current fortnightly membership fees

Over 20 hours per week and over $35,000 per year

$15.60

$14.50

Over 20 hours per week and under $35,000 per year

$10.00

$11.70

More than 10.5 hours per week and up to 20 hours

$8.50

$8.70

More than 7 hours per week and up to 10.5 hours

$4.24   

$4.38

More than 3.5 hours per week and up to 7 hours

$3.74

$3.38

Up to 3.5 hours per week

$3.24

$2.38

SLGOU members were well supported by their organisers. They had a high ratio of organisers to members but those organisers also carried responsibility for non-organising duties such as IT, finance, procurement, communications and the membership system.

With the merger with the PSA, local government workers in Canterbury and Otago are now supported by a team dedicated to organising, with no additional responsibilities. Members and delegates will continue to have good access to organisers but the way of working will change over time as delegates become better trained and other types of support kick in. While the ratio of organisers to members will reduce over the agreed two year transition period organisers will be supported by:

  •  An in house legal team, with access to external legal expertise
  •  Other teams looking after finance, IT, property, membership, policy and communications to free up organiser time
  •  Other organisers in the Christchurch and Dunedin offices who can help out in campaigns and can cover when local government organisers are absent. Previously, when the Dunedin organiser is away there was no-one locally who could step in
  •  A national local government organising team who understand the local government sector and the challenges of organising there
  •  Delegates who will have an enhanced role and resources, and receive comprehensive training in how to work in different ways

All five full-time organisers were given offers of employment. One has opted not to transfer, but the others will continue in their roles. Over a two-year transition period this will reduce to 2.5 (two in Christchurch and 0.5 in Dunedin), but only when we are confident that the systems are in place to ensure members receive the support that they need.

With the merger we did not want to lose the skills and experience of SLGOU staff. For this reason, all full-time SLGOU organisers were given offers of employment (see response above). The administrative role was not transferred to the PSA. We worked with SLGOU leadership and staff to ensure that staff have been treated fairly.

By joining together, we now have about 8,000 members working in local government, which gives us a significant voice in this sector. It also gives us weight as we tackle the important issues affecting the local government sector, such as: the difficult relationship between central and local government; council amalgamations; local government funding; staffing and employment conditions; and the Living Wage.

For our members we see the following benefits:

  • Wider collegial support and information sharing to benefit all in the local government sector 
  • Access to organiser trained call centre staff, in house lawyers, policy advisors, a communications team and union educators 
  • Better access to government ministers and officials enabling discussion and input into matters affecting local government 
  • Easy access to other national organisation such as Local Government NZ
  • Access to comprehensive member benefits packages – holiday houses and member discounts at various suppliers

SLGOU has brought 2,000 members into a sector that previously had 6,000 members. That means that local government members in Canterbury and Otago represent a quarter of our local government members, and that is a significant proportion.

Local government is one of 5 sectors within the PSA, all of which have one vote at the executive table, regardless of size. The local government sector committee is responsible for representing members in local government within the PSA and it is made up of representatives from different regions around the country. The sector committee representatives are elected by delegates in each region. It is proposed that there will be an additional 2 representatives on the sector committee representing the South Island (3 in total). The 2 new representatives will be based in Otago and Canterbury and the committee will agree the boundaries of their constituencies.

The committee elects a convener who sits on the executive board.

Aside from the fact that your subscription fees now go to the PSA rather than SLGOU, and you will start receiving PSA communications, you shouldn’t notice any difference for a while. The first increment towards achieving the PSA subscription fees will occur from 1 July and a programme of delegate development will start to roll out as time and resources allow, but otherwise most change will happen over time.

SLGOU used hours of work to calculate fees, while the PSA uses salary-based bands. A transition to the new fees will occur (see below). The effective rates at the date of the merger are:

 

Normal Weekly Hours

Fortnightly Fee

Over 20 hours

$13.40

More than 10.5 hours and up to 20 hours

$8.90

More than 7 hours and up to 10.5 hours

$4.50

More than 3.5 hours and up to 7 hours

$3.00

Up to 3.5 hours

$1.50

 

Gross annual salary

Fortnightly fee

Over $39,104

$16.70

Between $18,380 and $39,104

$8.30

Under $18,380

$4.10

  

 

Because of these different approaches it is estimated that around 500 to 600 SLGOU members will receive a small reduction in subscription fees as a result of the merger and about 1400 to 1500 will pay a modest increase in fees.

The move to the new subscription fees will be split over three annual increments occurring on 1 July 2015, 1 July 2016, and 1 July 2017, to minimise the impact. These increments will coincide with pay increases for most SLGOU members, and 1 July is also the date on which SLGOU would usually increase its own subscription fees. The PSA reviews its subscription fees every two years and they will not change again until 1 March 2017.

Unless they requested otherwise, delegates will continue in their roles. In the PSA delegate elections occur every two years and are due this year. Your organisers will work with you on the election process.

Existing liaison committees would become delegate committees until such time as new elections are held.

As with all PSA delegates, existing delegates will be offered training and support as they take on an increasing role representing and supporting colleagues within the workplace. 

As members of the PSA, you have access to:

  • 41 holiday homes in 7 locations: Whitianga, Rotorua, Raumati (north of Wellington), Nelson, Carters Beach, Otematata and Te Anau.  Members in Otago can access another holiday home in Queenstown, owned and operated by the Otago Public Service Welfare Society. (Other PSA members can access this holiday home in certain circumstances.) We also operate a reciprocal arrangement with South Australia PSA giving our members access to their holiday homes.
  • Great savings on car hire, travel, hotels, adventure, magazines and books
  • Savings on health, risk, home, content and car insurance
  • An expanded range of travel and lifestyle benefits through our partnership with Member Advantage, a union-owned Australian company.

There will be no change to collective agreements as a consequence of the merger. Each collective agreement is between the employer and the union.  Section 56 of the Employment Relations Act provides that the collective continues to apply to the employer and the employees covered and binds any amalgamated union.

The bargaining process will be largely the same. Members will be asked for issues they want to raise in bargaining, the union organiser will initiate bargaining and then lead the negotiations in conjunction with delegates, and members will vote on the offer presented. The only changes will be those that members agreed to. Collectives will only be merged if either members wanted that to happen in both organisations and voted accordingly or if there were local authority amalgamations.

No.  Strike action can only lawfully be used when in negotiation for your own collective agreement.

The PSA is active in many issues in local government and there is always bargaining going on somewhere in the country. Examples of some of the issues we are currently involved with in the sector are: the political and civil rights of local government workers; promoting the Living Wage in local authorities; the review of council controlled organisations in Auckland; the consideration of amalgamating Wellington's local councils; and the sustainability of local government funding.

The PSA is well represented in local government but there is certainly potential to grow. The biggest number and the highest proportion of members is in Auckland where we have nearly 2,800 members in local government, across the Council and its council controlled organisations. With the merger, the next biggest number of members is now found in Christchurch/Dunedin with 2,000 members across local authorities in both regions. After that the next biggest group of members is over 500 across the Wellington councils. The rest of the members are spread around the country in generally smaller councils. The PSA membership as a proportion of the total workforce in these councils varies quite widely, but in some cases a small number of members can represent a high proportion of the workforce.

Te Rūnanga o ngā Toa Āwhina represents and promotes the interests of Māori members. It provides a network to ensure Māori have a voice in the PSA, from the workplace to the union’s top decision-making bodies.

All members who identify as Māori are part of Te Rūnanga o ngā Toa Āwhina.  If you are Māori, please let us know by logging into My PSA on the website and updating your details, or by contacting the PSA membership team at enquiries@psa.org.nz or 0508 367 772.