The Public Service Association supports a Bill introduced by the government yesterday that aims to replace the State Sector Act 1988 with a new Public Service Act.
Union members throughout the public sector have contributed feedback on a wide range of issues in the lead-up to this bill being introduced.
“We are lucky to live in a country with some of the best public services in the world. Public servants do the work they do because they want to make a difference for their communities, and it’s good to see this finally acknowledged in legislation,” says Glenn Barclay, PSA National Secretary.
“Times have changed since 1988, and the ideologies informing many policies and laws introduced back then have since been called into question. New Zealand will benefit most from a state sector governed by principles like wellbeing and kotahitanga, and the government’s plans are a meaningful step in the right direction.”
The PSA welcomes the clarification the bill provides about the role of the public service in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi.
The bill has been introduced on the day the gender pay gap means New Zealand women begin working for free, and the PSA strongly advocates that any new legislation must include a commitment to meeting the Gender Pay Principles.
The union strongly endorses the bill’s affirmation that public servants have all the same rights as other citizens, as laid out in the Bill of Rights Act, the Human Rights Act and the Electoral Act.
“On multiple occasions, public servants have found their employers attempting to stop them from engaging in political activity in their own time,” says Mr Barclay.
“Let’s be clear once and for all. The principle of a politically neutral public service does not mean public servants can’t be politically active.”
The union says it will continue engaging constructively with the Government around specific details such as the mobility of public servants between departments, in the hope new legislation will improve productivity and working conditions without undermining secure employment.
“We agree it’s better to be focused on positive outcomes for New Zealand than on rigid lines of demarcation between government departments,” says Mr Barclay.
“As the public service embraces consistency and cooperation in the provision of government services, there is an opportunity to also align the employment terms and conditions of government employees in a way that’s simpler and fairer for everyone.”