While the Government’s plan for public service reform does not reverse many of the neo-liberal elements of the State Sector Act it still represents a significant step forward. The reforms will provide better mechanisms to enable cross agency work and help break down silos in government.
They will support greater local and regional co-ordination of public services, involving both central and local government, as well as iwi.
We particularly welcome recognition of the right of public servants to freedom of political expression in their private lives, and proposals to improve responsiveness to Māori.
There is the opportunity for the state to become an exemplar employer with the best possible employment practices and we could start by upgrading the good employer provisions of the Act. The SSC will have tools that should support greater consistency in terms and conditions across the Public Service.
The Government has stopped short of making the SSC the employer of all staff in the Public Service, instead leaving chief executives as employers while stating that public servants will be ‘appointed to the Public Service’. It is still not clear what this means in practice and we want this to have real meaning for members.
The Public Service will also include crown agents such as ACC and the DHBs. While the organisation of these agencies won’t change, the purpose and principles of the Public Service will apply, as will standards and guidance issued by the SSC and the affirmation of the rights and responsibilities of public servants.
It includes expectations public service leaders work in partnership with Māori to deliver services that work for Māori, and develop a workforce that reflects the community it serves.
“As a school social worker I’m responsible for more than 600 kids and I earn about the same amount as I did twenty years ago working in a bank.”