Stepping Up in a Crisis

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.

Among them was Simone Best who made a huge sacrifice to keep doing her job.

The community support worker cares for elderly people with dementia, stroke and other health issues.

OPM Simone cropped2“It is hands on, washing bodies, wiping bottoms, washing hair,” she says.

The Covid crisis presented her with the most difficult of decisions – how to protect her 14 year-old daughter from the virus while continuing to care for her patients.

“I thought how am I going to keep her safe if I pick up the bug? So I made the decision for her to stay with my Mum.”

While missing her daughter, Simone was conscious she had become a support worker to give back to people in the community.

“It’s difficult for the elderly to understand why they don’t get to see any people. I am the only source of contact they have for the day.”


Simone and many other PSA members went the extra mile for their fellow New Zealanders during the lockdown.

“We’re so proud of our members for stepping up in this crisis,” says national secretary Glenn Barclay.

“Time and time again they’ve shown their dedication, adaptability and willingness to make personal sacrifices to help others.”

The PSA believes the efforts of our members during lockdown deserve recognition so we’ve gathered a few of their stories together in the multi-media Our People Matter campaign.


Canterbury Medical Laboratories Scientist Sue Lloyd was another of our members to put the needs of others first during lockdown.

With 80% of diagnosis determined by lab testing, it was vital that Sue and her colleagues at Christchurch Hospital’s laboratory kept working.

OPM Sue2The lab was split into two shifts, so if someone got Covid-19, one shift would go into isolation.

Sue said it was important to maintain a positive attitude, despite not being able to see her children, grandchildren or elderly parents.

“When you’re under stress you can panic and get upset, or you can have fun. So we have been enjoying our work bubble.”

Sue is grateful to New Zealanders who obeyed instructions to stay home.

“Look at other countries. Our health system could have been overloaded, but this has meant we can keep giving healthcare to those who need it.”

Sue says caring about patients is her main motivation for coming to work each day.


Labour Inspector Deanna Hemara’s day job is to help regulate employment laws to make sure workers are being treated fairly.

But during Covid-19 she elected to be redeployed to the all government helpline, answering queries about the lockdown, the wage subsidy and other issues.

OPM Deanna cropped“We were getting a lot of employers who were desperate to maintain their businesses and employees.”

Now she’s back working as a Labour Inspector for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Deanna is dealing with complaints about the wage subsidy and how it has been applied.

She says while the rules and processes were clear, some employers have been using the subsidy for unscrupulous reasons for which it was not designed.

Deanna says she hopes the crisis has given the public a greater awareness of the important role of public servants.

 “It gave me a sense of accomplishment to see how the public service across the board scrambled and came together to get New Zealand through this crisis… Even if it’s just someone talking on the other end of the line.”

AT THE BORDER                               

Quarantine officer Adam Walker usually works to keep biosecurity threats out of New Zealand.

But for the past few months his work at Wellington Airport has been to battle something completely different – Covid-19.

OPM Adam2“If passengers are ill or have been to certain at risk countries we’ve been directing them to public health officials at the airport,” Adam explains.

Away from the airport, Adam and other Biosecurity NZ quarantine officers were also responsible for verification of essential businesses that wanted to remain open during the lockdown.

“We were checking they had processes in place to protect employees and visitors to the sites.”

Adam says it’s a “beautiful feeling” to be helping on the frontline of the crisis.

“I feel like we are doing an effective and meaningful job. And this time we have the whole country fighting with us so we’ll win eventually.”

View more stories from our essential workers at

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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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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Leading the Way

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

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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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