State sector legislation sends worrying signalsPublish By Ryan Berry Updated 21/06/2012 2:30 pm in NZ News / no comments
PSA MEDIA RELEASE
21st June 2012 – For Immediate Use
The Public Service Association says proposed changes to the State Sector Act send some very worrying signals about how the government intends to manage the public sector workforce.
The government has released a briefing paper on the State Sector Reform (Public Finance) Bill which will be introduced to parliament later in the year. The bill introduces the first substantive change to the State Sector Act since 1988.
The PSA has serious concerns about the power the legislation will give the government in terms of changing and dictating employment policy.
“While we still haven’t seen the details of the legislation, there is no doubt that the changes will diminish the employment rights of thousands of workers and severely reduce the ability of unions and employers to collectively bargain,” says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.
“The Bill will allow the government to jump over the collective bargaining process and dictate pay and conditions through an Order of Council which effectively forces departments to implement policy by way of government directive. The PSA will be exploring whether this could be in breach of good faith bargaining provisions.”
There are also plans to claw back redundancy provisions which would mean that state sector employees will not receive redundancy if they apply for and get a job in another department.
Brenda Pilott says all this will do is encourage people to take the money and either move to the private sector or come back on a contract basis.
“It would undermine the core public service and encourage a contracting culture. At a time of significant restructuring and redundancies in the public sector, any attempt to roll back redundancy provisions would be a draconian step and will be strongly fought.”
The legislation should also sound alarm bells for some specific groups as it shows a clear intention to diminish the state sector’s responsibility for equal employment opportunities.
The PSA does welcome the government’s moves to encourage a more joined up and flexible state sector.
“We share the goal of creating an innovative and efficient public service and are pleased the Bill will remove some of the problems with the original Act which resulted in a fragmented and siloed approach to public service delivery,” Brenda Pilott says.
The PSA says while it is still waiting to see the detail of the legislation, it is urging the government not to rush it through without a robust select committee process.