"Thanks for making a difference"

"Thanks for making a difference"

We’ve been making sure your right to negotiate for pay increases is respected in the corridors of power and at the bargaining table.

That’s been our response to the Government’s announcement in early May that it intended to restrict pay for workers in the public service, state sector and DHBs over the next two years.

Pay guidance was issued to employers, instructing them to offer only modest pay increases to workers in low paid roles, where the average pay is below $60,000.

The Government said workers paid above this would only be offered pay increases under “exceptional circumstances”.



 Value our Work cover art by Jem Yoshioka



The median PSA members’ salary is $59,000 a year.  As originally announced, the pay restrictions unfairly impact on everyone from biosecurity officers (median pay $63k) to DOC rangers (median pay $59k). 

We asked you to give us your thoughts about the pay guidance, and over 3,000 of you did so, expressing anger, and questioning why the government would punish public workers after a year of sacrifice and success protecting New Zealanders from Covid-19.

In news stories over the following week - PSA delegates and leaders challenged the restrictions and made it clear we would go into bargaining seeking the improved conditions our members deserve.


That’s produced positive results.

After a PSA delegation met with the Prime Minister, Ministers, and the Public Service Commissioner, the Government acknowledged bargaining must be conducted in good faith with no predetermined outcomes.

They committed to review the pay guidance a year earlier than originally planned.

The union and the Government also agreed there is no pay freeze - and that the limitations on pay increases for those earning over $60,000 and $100,000 should be dropped.

There is now scope to discuss cost of living increases for all union members covered by collective agreements, including higher increases for the lowest paid.

It was also agreed to advance the goal of implementing step-based pay progression, and to speed up equal pay settlements.

“Thanks to our members for making your voices heard. Our efforts make a difference,” says PSA national secretary Kerry Davies.


As Te Mahinga Ora goes to print, the PSA is still working to ensure this revised approach is fully understood and implemented by all parties.

“We need to see agencies align their bargaining approaches to the revised position of government - and this is yet to be seen,” says PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk.

“Change is never simply handed down from on high. We still have to fight to win anything at the bargaining table,” adds Kerry.

As always, that depends on all of us to get actively involved with our union and encourage colleagues to do the same.

Go to campaigns.psa.org.nz/value_our_work to view members’ messages, and letters from Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins on the pay guidance, download a poster of our Value our Work cover and make a video of support.

Also in this issue:

President's message

Welcome to this edition of Te Mahinga Ora, I hope you enjoy reading about the mahi your union has undertaken over the past three months.

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News in brief

A first for PSA Pasefika, a Budget 2021 update, news on our case against Inland Revenue, and more...

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Long road to fair pay and conditions for support workers

Our home support workers have some of the worst employment conditions in New Zealand, and the PSA is determined to help change that with a Fair Pay Agreement (FPA).

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Fair Pay Agreements – what are they all about?

All too often, employers compete for contracts by holding down pay and undermining conditions in an endless race to the bottom.

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One Public Service

Common terms and conditions for all

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Unsung heroes reach well-deserved pay settlement

Our members at ESR are some of the unsung heroes of New Zealand’s Covid response.

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A massive contribution

Our PSA Kaumātua is stepping down from his duties after a lifetime of mahi for our union and Māori workers.

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Fighting for a better life

Janice Panoho has been fighting for a better life for Māori since she joined the 1975 Land March and is still pursuing that goal in her new leadership role with the PSA.

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Protect yourself, protect your community

Many of our members in health and community services are among those to be receiving their Covid-19 vaccine as the rollout continues across Aotearoa.

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“We always have tamariki at heart”

Supporting tamariki and whānau to thrive is something we all want to strive for - but some of Aotearoa’s most needed workers are undervalued for this important mahi.

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Wearing purple for library workers

Library workers and their supporters wore purple on May 13, to mark the second anniversary of our library assistants pay equity claim.

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Building back better?

Nobody anticipated the scale of extra spending in this year’s budget, but CTU economist Craig Renney asks where is the vision for building back better?

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Social insurance - an idea worth discussing

A new scheme to cover a chunk of the wages of people who lose their jobs is an idea worth considering argues Sam Gribben of E tū.

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Ināia tonu nei: The time for climate action is now

The PSA welcomes the Climate Change Commission’s advice that workers and unions help design a strategy that ensures the costs of transitioning to a low-emissions Aotearoa are shared fairly.

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A giant whose shoulders we stand on

Elizabeth Orr was a leader in pay equity and equal pay in Aotearoa for more than 50 years.

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Leading the way

When asked what attracted her to the study of marine macro-algae, NIWA delegate Wendy Nelson joked about getting paid to go to the beach.

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Kia Kaha Te Reo Hangarau!

Technology is an essential tool in modern workplaces. Here are some kupu and phrases that could come in handy at work or at home

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Signing for solidarity

As we marked NZ Sign Language Week, Janet Stokes, one of our first Deaf delegates, told Te Mahinga Ora about her mahi for the union and Deaf community.

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Health and safety awards

Celebrating the exceptional work of our health and safety representatives across the public sector.

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"A perfect storm"

As the effects of Covid and rising authoritarianism ravage much of our region, UnionAID’s Michael Naylor asks us to dig deep for their appeal.

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Around & About

In this issue our photo page features the Nurses' Strike, Pink Shirt Day and much more

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