“I like being part of a movement that looks after us. I tell all my workmates to join,” she says.
The registered social worker had previously been a PSA member at Te Pou Oranga o Whakatōhea, a Māori provider of health and social services.
She was encouraged to join the first time around when the non-government organisation was going through a period of restructuring.
A SAFETY NET
“Working for an NGO, I knew nothing about a union. But as kaimahi, we felt like we weren’t being heard.
“So we joined, then we knew if something happened we had the union to fall back on. It was a safety net.”
In her new role working with high risk whānau in the paediatrics and maternity department at Whakatāne Hospital, Susan enjoys a better salary than she did as an NGO social worker.
She still has a lot of sympathy for her former workmates, who she says are on similar wages to kiwifruit workers, but often don’t feel safe to complain.
SUPPORTING PAY PARITY
A desire to support pay parity for social workers was another reason Susan rejoined the union.
“There’s a huge difference in pay rates, but we’re doing the same job, working with vulnerable families.”
It’s a job Susan is passionate about.
On the morning Te Mahinga Ora visited she was working with a homeless woman, ensuring she was provided with a bed and food.
“If a hapū māmā comes in we are there. We come up with a safety plan to reduce the risk for her unborn child.”
Born and bred in Kutarere, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Susan is also able to support her iwi, Te Upokorehe, through her mahi.
“A lot of our people come through the maternity ward, and we have workshops and pregnancy programmes working with whānau.”
As our 80,000th member we are pleased to offer Susan two nights accommodation in our PSA holiday homes.
She says being able to stay in PSA holiday accommodation in Rotorua was a huge help when she was training for a counselling degree. Now she’s looking forward to “going somewhere different with hubby”.
In July the PSA proudly celebrated topping 80,000 members for the first time in our 108 year history.
As Aotearoa’s largest union, we have the collective strength to represent you in the workplace and to influence change at a political level to improve public and community services and create a better society for all New Zealanders.
We are also strengthening our union through the creation of new leadership positions, more organisers, and a new membership advice and support centre, so we can continue to support all 80,000+ of you.