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ANZASW statement on industrial action in the public sector

The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) offers full solidarity to public sector colleagues who have been exercising their right to bargain for fair pay and working conditions.

We enthusiastically affirm our support for teachers, nurses in addition to those working in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Inland Revenue, all of whom are engaged in active negotiations for fair pay and conditions at the present time. While we hope that these disputes can be resolved, we support any industrial action that might be forthcoming.

ANZASW is also aware that the New Zealand Tramways Union (NZTU) is engaged in a bargaining process through which they are seeking to protect jobs and pay; we wish to express our support for their efforts also.

The Association warmly congratulates mental health and addiction workers who were included in the government’s pay equity settlement recently, a move that bodes well for realising commitments to end the Gender wage gap. This builds on the earlier success achieved by core public service employees who are now set to be paid the living wage; this was an important victory which once again underlines the centrality of Unions in the fight for justice in the workplace.

We wish to note that in a cabinet paper released around the time that the living wage for public servants was released, the observation was made that low rates of unionisation in the District Health Board and Non-Governmental Organisation sectors are impacting on the ability of social workers to secure fair pay for their work. We hope that this trend can be reversed.

As the country’s leading voice for social workers, ANZASW understands that public sector staff, like many social workers, have long been undervalued, enduring long-standing pay freezes, even as they have increasingly been asked to do more. All of which has occurred against the backdrop of rising cost of living and an inflated housing market, a state of affairs that is disproportionately affecting those on low and middle incomes. We are excited by the development of the social worker pay equity claim at Oranga Tamariki which represents a step toward a social work future in which all our members are valued and paid fairly.

ANZASW reaffirms its commitment to the struggle for equitable pay in the workplace for public and private sector employees alike; accordingly, we firmly support the living wage campaign and offer unconditional solidarity to those who are fighting for equal pay for women.

It is in the interests of all New Zealanders that our workforce, across all sectors, is properly compensated and that labour inequity is tackled through negotiations between government, employers and unions. We commend all who are engaged in this cause.


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