The Last Word

Retiring national secretary Glenn Barclay looks back on a time of growth and change at the helm of New Zealand’s largest union

I started at the PSA in 2003, initially in the policy team and then as national secretary for the last five years.

In that time, I have seen our union rebuild to a membership of 77,000 today.

In the 1980s our membership was strong with 70 to 80,000 members, but it plummeted to around half that following the restructuring of the state sector in the 1980s and the Employment Contract Act in 1991.


By the time I started we were on the up again, with a particularly remarkable rise in membership in the last three years.

The committed work of our delegates and staff in making this happen has been impressive.

The pursuit of our strategic agenda has also contributed to growth, with the development of our four strategic goals in 2012 strengthening this.


Under those goals we have made great strides, particularly in the area of equal pay. Through claims and legislative progress, we now have a path to genuinely achieve equal pay for all our members.

We are also focussed on closing the glaring pay gap wāhine Māori and Pasefika women endure, as can be seen by our Mana Wahine claim to the Waitangi Tribunal.

I take considerable pride in the support I gave to Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina to develop its mandate and accountability to Māori members, and enhance its status within the PSA.


I have also been involved in the push to repeal the neo-liberal State Sector Act and replace it with something better.

We wanted legislation that would promote a joined up career public service and enhance the status of public servants.

I am really pleased a new Public Service Act passed in the year in which I retire.

It doesn’t go as far as we would have liked but it opens up opportunities to push for common and consistent terms and conditions, while also recognising the importance of the Māori Crown relationship, and the political rights of public servants.


During my time at the PSA we have grappled with crises. Our members and staff in Christchurch have shown great courage in the face of earthquakes, the Ashburton shooting, and last year’s terror attacks. We have done what we can to support them.

And now this year we have Covid-19. Once again we have supported members during an extraordinary time and once again they have demonstrated their commitment and capability. It makes me incredibly proud.

My time at the PSA has been amazing, but I am looking forward to a different stage in my life. I wish you all the best for the challenges ahead. Kia kaha.





Also in this issue:

Building Our Future

It was our biggest Congress ever, with more than 200 delegates gathering in Wellington to debate, network and make plans that will guide the future of our union.

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Welcome to our New President

We extend a warm welcome to Benedict Ferguson who has been elected as our new president by delegates at Congress 2020.

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News in Brief

An interim offer for the DHB admin pay equity claim, new collective agreements in the Public Service, and a new leadership line-up for our union feature in our News in Brief.

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What can we expect from the new Government?

With a new Government now in place it’s timely for the PSA to consider what we can expect, and what we would like to achieve in the next three years.

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"Our Māori membership stands proud"

Delegates at Hui Taumata came away feeling inspired and empowered to make a difference for their workmates and their people.

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"A Champion of the Vulnerable"

Allan Franks says he felt “privileged and a bit overwhelmed” to receive the Marlene Pitman Award at Hui Taumata, the PSA Māori Congress.

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Delivering on Equal Pay

The PSA is taking a two-track approach to delivering on pay equity - using the force of new law to settle claims and new guidance to end discrimination.

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Rebuilding a Spirit of Universalism

Thanks to all our members who supported the PSA’s Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment during the election campaign. We’ll be continuing this campaign for a commitment to universal basic services.

Here’s why writer and campaigner Max Harris believes universalism is so important.

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Unions Unite for Home Support

The wider union movement has thrown it’s support behind the They Deserve the Best Campaign for home support that gives dignity to our most vulnerable people.

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PSA members were among the winners in Te Kawa Mataaho's Public Service Day Awards this year.

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Bring On the Holidays!

After the most challenging of years, many of us are counting the days until we can take a well-deserved break.

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HealthCarePlus brings Bikes for Good

Christchurch kids and their bikes will benefit from a PSA HealthCarePlus Grant for Good.

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"It's an eye opener"

The two researchers delving into the findings of our Mana Wahine Treaty Claim survey shared their own experiences of discrimination with Working Life.

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Saving Livelihoods

The Covid-19 pandemic is estimated to have claimed the equivalent of 235 million jobs across the Asia Pacific region.

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"There is a fear of being open about who we are"

The right to work is a fundamental human right - but people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics (SOGIESC) continue to experience discrimination in workplaces which can sometimes force them to leave.

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Rostering for Wellbeing

Members at a mental health unit in Auckland are “stoked” about their new roster system.

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Out of Office

Writing a waiata fit for a Prime Minister might seem daunting.

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He Uiui Raumati

Nau mai ki tēnei Uiui Raumati - Summer Quiz

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Around & About

Pink is the theme for our photo pages this issue thanks to the anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day and the DHB admin pay equity claim Pink Tuesdays.

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