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.
NEW PUBLIC SERVICE
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.
COURAGE IN CRISIS
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.
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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