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Government signs new agreement with PSA

Government signs new agreement with PSA

Prime Minister Helen Clark and the PSA President Ian Bamber today signed a new Partnership for Quality Agreement, reflecting a commitment by the government and the union to work together on public service issues.

The government and the Public Service Association (PSA) first signed a Partnership for Quality Agreement in May 2000. State Services Minister Trevor Mallard and the PSA recently reviewed the agreement.

“The renewed partnership agreement reflects a continuing commitment by the PSA and the government to work together to develop a strong, modern and innovative public service that is highly successful for both citizens and public servants,” Helen Clark and Trevor Mallard said.

“The Partnership for Quality is a ground breaking initiative that has generated benefits for both the government and PSA members.

“The positive working relationship we have means workers are collectively participating in the management of their workplaces, making concrete contributions to the improved delivery of government services to the public,” they said.

The agreement encourages employers, managers and the PSA to establish co-operative and open relationships, and to work together to improve the effectiveness of departments and agencies and their ability to provide quality services for New Zealanders. Under the agreement, the government and the PSA have agreed to a work programme which includes completing and implementing Review of the Centre projects, and scoping options for promoting partnership.

A copy of the renewed Partnership for Quality Agreement follows.

The Partnership for Quality Agreement

“Broadening and Deepening Partnership for Quality”

An agreement


the Prime Minister


the New Zealand Public Service Association


a “Partnership for Quality”

in the Public Service

Signed on 5 November 2003


Partnership for Quality is an active relationship based on recognition of a common interest to develop a modern, innovative Public Service that is highly successful for both:

citizens and tax-payers who are users of the service; and

public servants who work within the Public Service.

The Government and the PSA agree that a quality Public Service is one that:

has sufficient capacity to deliver effectively and efficiently, the Government’s overall social, economic and environmental policy;

recognises and applies the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi;

strengthens management and employee commitment to the delivery of quality public services;

is recognised domestically and internationally as providing quality public services to the nation;

adapts and responds to the changing needs of the community;

provides quality jobs with fair remuneration to public service employees, and invests in their professional development; and

promotes quality management and leadership practice that is inclusive of employees at all levels of the organisation.

Background and Context

The Government and the PSA signed an initial Partnership for Quality (PfQ) Agreement in May 2000. The PfQ Agreement, in action, has been a catalyst both for a major shift in the way that Government and the PSA interact, and for the way departments and agencies work with the PSA.

The recent review of the PfQ Agreement revealed that, while good progress is being made, there still exist some barriers to PfQ implementation. The level of understanding of PfQ principles and the take up of PfQ is variable in different departments.

The Government and the PSA are committed to advancing PfQ further by working towards:

a broadening of the implementation of the principles of the PfQ Agreement by spreading PfQ to a greater number of departments and agencies, expanding the extent to which they have embraced PfQ, and extending the range of issues they engage over;

A deepening of the impact of PfQ:

- at the Chief Executive and senior management levels; and

- out from the relationship between the Chief Executive and senior management with the PSA, to lower level and branch manager relationships with workplace delegates.

The Agreement

PfQ involves:

a continuing commitment by the PSA and Government to investments in quality jobs and improvements in quality public services; and

the acceptance by government employers of the PSA as a stakeholder with rights and interests in decisions affecting employees’ work and employment.

Each party has an interest in the other being well organised and effective in the PfQ relationship, and both have an interest in promoting PfQ and the principles that underpin it. Accordingly, PfQ will:

encourage employers, managers and the PSA to establish co-operative and open relationships, and to work together in ways consistent with PfQ principles;

enhance the effectiveness of departments and agencies and their ability to provide quality services and outcomes;

create the basis for decisions on the department’s or agency’s future and capacity;

support a collective approach and relationships, in keeping with the Employment Relations Act 2000; and

support the development of quality jobs and quality public services.

Applications of the Agreement

This PfQ Agreement formally applies to the Public Service. This Agreement, however, provides a model for agencies in the wider State sector and the Government expects such agencies to inform themselves about this Agreement and apply the principles of this Agreement to their relationships with the PSA.

This PfQ Agreement formally applies to the PSA. This Agreement, however, provides a model for the sort of relationships the Government would like to see in the wider economy, and both the Government and the PSA will support any future initiatives to build similar relationships.


The Government and the PSA agree that the following principles will apply to the PfQ relationship:

Engagement: PfQ involves active participation and dialogue between the Government, departments and the PSA which:

- enables public servants to collectively participate in the management of their workplaces through the PSA, to the extent possible while recognising the statutory requirements for Chief Executives to carry ultimate responsibility for management;

- provides for common ownership of plans, issues and problems as well as the generation of solutions by taking an interest based/problem solving approach to relevant issues;

- involves an investment in the training, personal development and working environment of public servants;

- demonstrates a commitment to early engagement on relevant issues and to openness/no surprises; and

- provides PSA members with reasonable opportunities to meet and discuss issues of importance, and delegates to receive adequate support in terms of time, facilities and skill development to carry out their roles effectively.

Good faith and respect for each other’s roles: PfQ involves:

- an acceptance by Government of the PSA as a legitimate stakeholder with rights and interests in decisions affecting employees’ work and employment, and the PSA as an independent representative of its members;

- an acceptance by the PSA of the Government’s role in representing the rights and interests of all New Zealanders, and of the ultimate responsibility of Chief Executives for managing their departments and agencies under the State Sector Act and other legislation;

- an acceptance by both the Government and the PSA that they will sometimes have divergent views on particular issues and that this should not compromise the overall PfQ relationship;

- a responsibility of the Government to promote and support PfQ by ensuring that departmental managers have the knowledge and skills required for PfQ;

- a responsibility of the PSA to organise members collectively so that all public servants are encouraged to join and become active participants in the union and PfQ, and by ensuring that delegates in particular have the knowledge and skills required for PfQ; and

- a commitment by Government and the PSA to work together to promote PfQ and to broaden and deepen its application within government departments and other agencies.


At the central level, the following structural arrangements will apply to support innovation in the development and implementation of high quality modern public services. Outcomes will inform processes operated, and decisions made, by Government.

the Minister of State Services, Chief Executives, and the PSA secretariat will meet regularly as the Tripartite Forum;

the Minister of State Services will meet regularly with the PSA secretariat to discuss issues of relevance; and

the State Services Commission and the PSA will engage as follows:

- the State Services Commissioner, Deputy Commissioners, and the Manager of the Strategic Development Branch will each meet with the PSA on an “as required” basis;

- the Strategic Employment Relations Team will meet in alternate months with the PSA secretariat and with PSA sector co-ordinators; and

- State Services Commission staff will liaise with the PSA on specific initiatives in line with the engagement and good faith principles, including over the matters listed in the work programme in the attached annex.

At the departmental level, Chief Executives and their staff will work to advance PfQ as appropriate to their particular circumstances, taking into account the level of PSA membership within the department, the knowledge and skills of key participants, and their relationships with other unions and other stakeholders.

Current and future work programme

The attached annex sets out the agreed current and future work programme. The annex may be amended, by agreement, from time to time.


------------------------------------- -------------------------------------

Rt Hon Helen Clark Ian Bamber

Prime Minister President

On behalf of the Government On behalf of the PSA

5 November 2003


Current and future work programme


The work programme will be carried out by the parties in line with the principles and structures for engagement set out in the PfQ Agreement. Considerable work has been completed since the PfQ Agreement was signed in May 2000, and some elements of this are reflected in the current work programme (see below).

Processes for prioritisation and timing of future work programme activities, including such things as an annual review of the programme and report to Ministers and PSA Executive Board, will be agreed.

Current work programme

The agreed current work programme includes the following:

completion of the Review of the Centre projects and their implementation, including the HR Framework Project and its sub-projects;

the State Sector Retirement Savings Working Party; and

the Pay and Employment Equity Task Force and Public Service sub-group processes.

Future work programme

The agreed future work programme includes the following:

scoping options for the development of a partnership centre/resource to support the promotion and advancement of partnership practices;

the development of broader forms of engagement and dialogue around Public Service triennial plans and budgeting;

a review of PfQ approaches, collective coverage and remuneration pressures to give effect to “broadening and deepening” and the implementation of the HR Framework Project and Pay and Employment Equity Task Force five year plan of action;

any other projects arising out of the Tripartite Forum including reviews of PfQ and the review of the Government’s annual budget process; and

any other projects or work streams as agreed between the PSA and the Minister of State Services or between the PSA and the State Services Commission.

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