Stand together for a better working life
When we Stand Together, we’re stronger.
That’s the whole ethos of the union movement, but also the PSA’s campaign for this year’s local government and DHB elections.
It aims to focus New Zealanders’ attention on the PSA’s members, the crucial jobs they do – and how they need to be protected so our communities stay great places to live.
In the words of PSA campaign organiser Conor Twyford: “Our members have been suffering from cuts and underfunding for years. This is a big campaign that seeks to bring all our members and allies together to promote the value of the work our members do.”
One of the difficulties of building campaigns for local government and DHB elections is that each area faces its own issues. Apart from some broad themes – protecting services, opposing privatisation, restoring and promoting democracy – Stand Together can be adapted in each centre.
So after a launch to members in late May, Stand Together’s going on the road. PSA national secretaries Erin Polaczuk and Glenn Barclay will travel up and down the country, talking to members about what they see as the biggest issues. In Auckland, the main campaign could be Stand Together for better social housing. In Christchurch, Stand Together for mental health. And at the heart of every campaign will be PSA members.
“In the research we’ve done, once we tell non-members the jobs our members do, they think we’re fabulous,” Conor says. “The campaign’s about reconnecting with voters, valuing our members and their places in our community.”
Already, various mayoral hopefuls are setting out their stalls to voters. In Auckland, the battleground could be rates – with several high-profile candidates promising the impossible, pledging to cut rates without affecting services.
Stand Together can point out that contradiction, Conor says. What does it mean to promise “core services” will not be cut? Does that mean libraries and pools might close – or rubbish collection might happen less often?
The public launch of Stand Together will be held at the PSA’s Biennial Congress in September, and then it’ll be all systems go for the 2017 election campaign. There are plans afoot to crowd-source the PSA’s big election asks – with the aim of making them clear, firm and unmistakable.
“We need to deal to Bill English’s desire to constantly push down the level of public spending as a proportion of GDP,” Conor says. “Let’s get a commitment out of Labour. We want a commitment to get rid of the clerical cap on DHBs, put back the ring-fence for mental health. They need to know what we want.”
So Stand Together is more than just a slogan; it’s a way to put our members in the spotlight, highlight everything they do for their communities and make sure they’re recognised as the heroes they are. Once public servants are properly valued, making the case for good, stable jobs will be that much easier.
“It’s like that great quote from Michael Joseph Savage, about public services being the expression of our collective responsibility to care for each other,” Conor says. They’re the ties that bind us and the net that catches us. And in order to preserve them, we need to Stand Together.