"In any crisis we hear talk of tightening our belts and pulling together as one. Now is the time we make those words mean something," says Glenn Barclay, National Secretary of the Public Service Association.
"Thousands of New Zealanders will breathe a sigh of relief to see such extensive and wide ranging support from the Labour-led government. Knowing money will still come even if they can’t go to work will allow everyone to focus on what matters - caring for ourselves, our families and our communities."
The union welcomes in particular the government commitment to financial support for contractors and other workers who lack the security of permanent employment status.
News of permanent increases to welfare payments is also warmly received, with the PSA noting it is welcome progress toward the eventual implementation of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s broader recommendations.
While many PSA members can work from home if required, many in sectors like health and home care support will need to physically be at work.
The union says extra attention must be paid to the needs of workers on the front line, and calls for government planning guidelines to treat people employed by private companies operating in the public sector no differently to any public servant.
"Home support workers might visit a dozen and more clients every week, walking into the homes of people highly vulnerable to infection. Many New Zealanders rely on the support of community and public sector workers and this support has to continue even during a national crisis," says Mr Barclay.
"Thousands of our members can’t work from home because their clients need them, so we need employers to guarantee staff will not suffer any loss of income if they get sick themselves."
New Zealanders should remain confident that government employees will work tirelessly to protect and support us all during this epidemic.