We’ve been making our voices heard on the new Public Service Legislation Bill with submissions from the PSA, Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina, network and delegate committees and individual members.
The PSA welcomes most aspects of the bill - but there are issues it does not address and we drew these to the attention of the select committee.
We would like the legislation to include a commitment to meeting the Gender Pay Principles, which give guidance for eliminating gender pay gaps and other inequalities in the workplace.
These principles are already making a difference in the public service and we believe it would be an important step to enshrine them in law.
We are also disappointed the new bill fails to get to the heart of problems caused by old State Sector Act’s establishment of the employment relationship at the agency level.
This has worked against system-level workforce management and mobility, and weakened the spirit of service and public service identity.
We want the State Services Commission to be the employer of all public service staff but made recommendations to strengthen cross agency employment relations.
The good employer provisions in the old legislation are untouched by this bill, despite having largely failed to achieve the change intended.
They should be strengthened to eliminate discrimination, and support the spirit of service and fair and equitable employment.
We welcome the long overdue affirmation of public servants’ civil rights but there needs to be guidance to uphold them.
The workforce provisions in the new Act should cover everyone involved in delivering public services. Chief executives should not be able to contract out of the good employer requirements.
Developing a capable public service workforcerequires strong relationships with the people working in those services and their unions. This should be recognised in the new Act.
Christchurch MBIE delegate Craig Hall gave a valuable insight into the bill’s proposals to enable more ‘joined up’ responses to specific events or issues in his personal submission:
I am from Christchurch which has had significant events including earthquakes, floods, fire and the horrific shootings last year.
These have required joined up responses from multiple agencies often through a lead agency in the initial stages and then through the creation of a new agency such as the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.
The provisions in this bill are more flexible and timely than waiting for a new agency.
They also provide more certainty for employees as they can be directly employed by the inter-agency venture.
Being able to set up a ‘one stop shop’ is invaluable, and being able to work regionally where it makes sense has clear benefits for the public and the Public Service.
PSA members and local communities joined forces in February to protest restructuring that threatened hundreds of jobs and quality client care.
While the restructuring by HealthCare NZ is now set to go ahead the protests have thrown a spotlight on issues besetting the home care and support sector.
Union organisers from the Pacific have spoken about the challenges some face while trying to improve conditions for workers in their countries.