Tēnā koutou e te whānau
In October I was fortunate to attend the Council of Trade Unions Conference along with other members of the PSA delegation.
The address by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was a time to take stock of all the great things that have been accomplished in the last two years.
These include strengthening union rights, restoring proper breaks for workers, the raising of the minimum wage, the extension of paid parental leave, and progress on equal pay claims.
The Prime Minister’s speech along with a recent Facebook post highlighting this Government’s achievements are reflected in the positive comments I hear when I travel around the country.
So let’s shake off the negativity that’s being spun by some. Let’s celebrate what’s been achieved and look ahead to what’s still to do.
Top of that to do list are fair pay agreements which would give better pay and protections to some of our most vulnerable workers. In the last month we’ve been rallying members to respond to a Government discussion document on FPAs.
I’ve been encouraging our lowest paid members to tell people how it is for you. We need to stop those employers who look to exploit them as cheap labour by setting minimum industry standards through fair pay agreements.
So let’s be loud and clear that we aren’t up for negotiation on this important issue!
On November 18 the PSA and other unions marked the date that all New Zealand women began working for free until the end of the year.
I have also been thinking about our Pasefika sisters who have been working for free since the end of September, and our wāhine Māori who have been working for free since October 12. Let’s hope that by this time next year those dates will be closer to Christmas!
Congratulations also to all our members whose hard work and dedication has been recognised in the Public Service Day and Spirit of Service Awards in the last few months. Finally I’d like to thank delegates and staff for the huge year we’ve had and the gains we’ve made as a union which now numbers 75,000 members.
I wish you all a safe and happy festive season and hope you get to enjoy a well-deserved break with your families.
A survey of wāhine Māori in the PSA has drawn a fantastic response - with more than 900 members taking the time to tell us about their employment experiences.
Your salaries generally reflect the gender and ethnic pay gaps seen in the wider workforce with Pākeha men well out in front of other groups.
That’s why we’ve made a submission on the Government’s new discussion document on FPAs and have been encouraging members to make sure their voices are heard.
Their role is to organise and advocate for Māori members in their sectors. They also represent their sectors on Te Kōmiti o Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Awhina and on sector committees.
Staff from the Ministry’s policy teams have attended UN indigenous rights forums in Geneva and New York.