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Commitment to strong public services sought

29 April 2005

Political parties commitment to strong public services sought

Public sector workers today released the policies they will be seeking commitments to from political parties this election year.

The policies have been developed by members of the Public Service Association (PSA) – New Zealand’s largest state sector union covering more than 48,000 employees working in government departments and other state organisations, the health sector and in local government.

PSA President Keith Gutsell said public services are essential to the health and wellbeing of all societies and New Zealanders deserve firm commitments from all political parties about how they would support them.

“PSA members include call centre operators, planners, mental health nurses, policy analysts, social workers, engineers, prison and customs officers, home carers, therapists, librarians and scientists. The work they do is helping to keep our economy growing, protecting of our unique environment and assisting many New Zealanders everyday to build a better futures for themselves and their families.

“Opinion polls tell us that there is no public appetite for a return to the privatisation and cost-cutting agenda of the 1980s and 1990s. New Zealanders want quality, modern public services provided by talented and skilled professionals.

“The PSA has worked constructively with the individual departments, and since 1999 with the government, to rebuild and improve public services with increased investment in staff and facilities. We have signed two formal Partnership for Quality agreements with both Labour-led governments which have helped push this change along.

“Many public organisations are under extreme pressure to meet demand for their services and it is vital that further investments are made. In this election year we will be seeking commitments from all the political parties about the key issues PSA members have identified as being critical to them and the quality of the services they provide.

“Some of the key issues PSA members will be seeking firm commitments on include: developing a third Partnership for Quality agreement building quality public services and ensuring they are adequately funded reviewing the State Sector Act to enable better integration of public services improving employment law around collective bargaining and union organisation better and equitable pay and comprehensive workplace planning widening the coverage of the State Sector Retirement Scheme and increasing the employer levy tackling the student debt issue.

“We will be promoting these policies in the lead up to the general election and reporting to our members and the public about what commitments we have received from the parties to them,” Keith Gutsell said.

ENDS

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