• Posted on: 30/06/2021
  • 2 minutes to read

We’ve been making sure your right to negotiate for pay increases is respected in the corridors of power and at the bargaining table.

That’s been our response to the Government’s announcement in early May that it intended to restrict pay for workers in the public service, state sector and DHBs over the next two years.

Pay guidance was issued to employers, instructing them to offer only modest pay increases to workers in low paid roles, where the average pay is below $60,000.

The Government said workers paid above this would only be offered pay increases under “exceptional circumstances”.



The median PSA members’ salary is $59,000 a year.  As originally announced, the pay restrictions unfairly impact on everyone from biosecurity officers (median pay $63k) to DOC rangers (median pay $59k). 

We asked you to give us your thoughts about the pay guidance, and over 3,000 of you did so, expressing anger, and questioning why the government would punish public workers after a year of sacrifice and success protecting New Zealanders from Covid-19.

In news stories over the following week - PSA delegates and leaders challenged the restrictions and made it clear we would go into bargaining seeking the improved conditions our members deserve.


That’s produced positive results.

After a PSA delegation met with the Prime Minister, Ministers, and the Public Service Commissioner, the Government acknowledged bargaining must be conducted in good faith with no predetermined outcomes.

They committed to review the pay guidance a year earlier than originally planned.

The union and the Government also agreed there is no pay freeze - and that the limitations on pay increases for those earning over $60,000 and $100,000 should be dropped.

There is now scope to discuss cost of living increases for all union members covered by collective agreements, including higher increases for the lowest paid.

It was also agreed to advance the goal of implementing step-based pay progression, and to speed up equal pay settlements.

“Thanks to our members for making your voices heard. Our efforts make a difference,” says PSA national secretary Kerry Davies.


As Te Mahinga Ora goes to print, the PSA is still working to ensure this revised approach is fully understood and implemented by all parties.

“We need to see agencies align their bargaining approaches to the revised position of government - and this is yet to be seen,” says PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk.

“Change is never simply handed down from on high. We still have to fight to win anything at the bargaining table,” adds Kerry.

As always, that depends on all of us to get actively involved with our union and encourage colleagues to do the same.

Go to campaigns.psa.org.nz/value_our_work to view members’ messages, and letters from Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins on the pay guidance, download a poster of our Value our Work cover and make a video of support.