Briefing to the Incoming PM: Value public services, value public servants

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Public servants are still not properly rewarded for the work they do, and the new Prime Minister Bill English should make changing that a priority, the PSA says.

The State Services Commission has released this year’s Human Resources Capability survey, which shows public service staff pay is falling further and further behind the private sector.

PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says it’s time to call a halt to this slide - and a new Prime Minister with a refreshed Cabinet should put it at the top of their agenda.

"For more than a decade now, public servants have received smaller pay rises than their private sector counterparts," Mr Barclay says.

"Last year, the average increase in the public service was 0.7 per cent - less than half the average private sector increase of 1.6 per cent.

"The constant drive to do more with less is exhausting for our members and it is starting to affect morale.

"Our members work hard to deliver the services that make New Zealand a great place to live and this year’s Human Resources Capability survey shows they deserve better."

The gender pay gap in the public sector has decreased slightly, from 14 per cent last year to 13.5 per cent - although Mr Barclay says that is still too high.

And while last week’s half-yearly economic and fiscal update detailed increasing surpluses in coming years, Mr Barclay says that’s partly because public servants are undervalued.

There are also indications of the stress front-line staff are under - with the average number of sick days rising from 8 last year to 8.6 this year.

Mr Barclay says staff who deal with the public face-to-face and in call centres take the most leave, and the PSA’s Workplace Dynamics survey show they’re likely to face regular abuse.

"We note Mr English says he intends to work more closely with unions, because by supporting them the government could do a better job of changing lives," Mr Barclay says.

"We look forward to a constructive relationship with him in his new role.

"But if he is serious about changing lives, he should properly value the work public servants do, because every day our members are out there doing exactly that."