Leading the Way

If a meat inspector from Invercargill can become a PSA President then anybody can.

So says AssureQuality meat inspector Keith Gutsell who achieved just that through a lot of hard work and dedication to the cause.

Keith got involved in the union more than four decades ago after seeing inequality in the workplace.

“I was not afraid to step up and speak to the bosses, so I dipped my toe in the waters.”

Since then he has served as a delegate, national delegate, sector committee rep, vice president, and President from 2004 to 2008.


One of Keith’s biggest campaigns as a delegate was to fight off attempts by successive National governments to privatise meat inspection.

In the 1990s he organised a collection that saw meat inspectors donate $30,000 to send PSA representatives to Europe and Washington to lobby politicians and officials to oppose the move.

The union argued it would lead to lower inspection standards for meat exports.

“Holding a collection was unheard of, but we stopped wholesale privatisation,” Keith recalls.


Keith says it was an honour to be PSA President during the era of Helen Clark’s Government.

He remembers taking a tag team approach to discussions in tripartite forum with Government and employers.

“I could say things that the national secretaries couldn’t, things like ifwe don’t get decent pay increases and conditions, don’t be surprised to see people marching in the streets.”

He says you have to tailor negotiating tactics to match employers. “Sometimes you have to be in their face, but other times a softly softly approach is better. Not all employers are mongrels.”

Keith is also proud of the Partnership for Quality agreement, which established a co-operative way of working between employers, employees and Government. The agreement remains in the AssureQuality Collective to this day.


As Keith retires from life as a meat inspector and PSA delegate, he can reflect on the role he has played in preserving terms and conditions for his workmates despite privatisation pressures.

When he was made a life member of the union in 2014, the PSA Journal noted he had been a ‘campaigner for workers’ rights all his working life’.

But Keith believes he has gained more than he has given during his life in the union movement.

“It’s given me the opportunity to meet Prime Ministers and other unionists around the world... I’d be meeting cabinet ministers one day and back on the chain the next – a great equaliser.”

Also in this issue:

Life in Lockdown

Home became a workplace for thousands of PSA members during Level 4 lockdown.

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The Story behind the Fight for PPE

It was “humbling” for PSA delegate Jacob Crown to see how everyone stood together to campaign for PPE for care and support workers during the Covid Crisis.

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Stepping Up in a Crisis

Thousands of PSA members showed the value of what they do as they responded to a global pandemic by delivering essential services during the lockdown.

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From exploitation to empowerment

Within months of arriving in New Zealand, Mandeep Bela was being exploited by his employer.

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The New Normal

The Covid-19 pandemic will change our future in ways we cannot yet know.

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A big idea for unprecedented times

The Covid crisis has shown us that when New Zealanders pull together we can achieve amazing things.

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Our candidates for PSA President

A new PSA president will be elected by attendees at the PSA Congress in Wellington on November 16-18. Here are the candidates:

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Challenging Times for Local Government

Thousands of PSA members work for local authorities around New Zealand.

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Building Better Together

As we emerge from the COVID crisis, Working Life asks Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff how we should rebuild for a brighter future

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From Crisis to Resilience

The challenges the world faces to rebuild from the Covid crisis have been laid bare by International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

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Mana Wahine goes to Parliament

Te Runanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina members spread the word about their Mana Wahine treaty claim when they met with some of Labour’s Māori Caucus at Parliament in March.

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Doing the Mahi

Delegates at the first hui of the Inland Revenue Rūnanga came away inspired to “do the mahi”.

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Hoea te Local Government Waka

A new Local Government Rūnanga held its first hui in March.

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On The Job

Rose Lee is not your stereotypical librarian.

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Climate Talk

As we grapple with the upheaval caused by Covid-19, I see people asking whether now is the right time to talk about climate change.

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President's Message

Mā ngā huruhuru, ka rere te manu
It is the feathers that enable the bird to fly

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News in Brief

In our briefs section we reveal what you did in the lockdown, preview the Women's Network Conference, and much more...

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PPE for PSA Photos

PSA care and support workers took part in a Global Day of Action to demand personal protective equipment, pay and respect in April.

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Pets of the PSA

PSA members showed some love for their pets during lockdown - proudly sending in photos of their new office buddies to our PSA Facebook page.

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Te Reo o te Tari

In this issue we bring you some handy kupu for your workspace - whether you're working in the office or at home.

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