According to the PSA “Budget 2010 does little to improve prospects for public sector workers and delivery of public services... expect further restructuring tighter restraints and the steady erosion of public services. Job losses will continue....”
The PSA has painted a bleak picture for the public services under the Nat's led government. The attitude of the Nat's as the PSA points out is “Do more with less”.
The rhetoric of the Finance Minister, Bill English, during his Budget speech regarding an efficient public sector is being exposed daily as cuts in public service. This is becoming more apparent to the general public when they try and access public services.
What this rhetoric really means is that 2000 public servants have lost their jobs and there has been increased workloads for those who have held on to their jobs.
Below is a breakdown of some of the budget cuts in the public sector.
A likely privatisation agenda has been signalled with an extra $91 million being allocated over the next four years to NGO's. This will no doubt shift more social services into the private sector undermining existing service and conditions of public sector workers.
An extra $2 million has been given to fund “more” robust policy advice. In plain English not “Bill English” this is about giving private consultants money to find out ways to open the Work Account to competition i.e. privatisation.
Health is a big loser in the budget with cuts in real terms in its funding. Health got an extra $512 million. This may sound good but according to the CTU it fell short by $43 million , which is needed to maintain services at there current level. No doubt this will be acutely felt with health services provided by District Health Boards.
Without doubt we will see the private sector health vultures circle much closer to the public health service picking off the juiciest pieces to make profit from. Alongside this will be the further entrenchment of a two tier health system.
Ministry of Culture and Arts funding down by 3%, Ministry of Defence funding is down 14%, Tertiary Education Commission funding is also cut by 13%.
The Treasury got a 5% increase in its budget. Obviously the Treasury needs to be kept sweet as it will be at the fore of the governments future privatisation agenda.
The present PSA leadership have not risen to the challenge. The present policy of political neutrality is undermining the prospects of effectively dealing with the issues the public sector is facing; one of privatisation and the complete undermining of the public service.
To date the PSA has lead isolated industrial disputes for example in the Ministry of Justice and have won pay rises for the members there.
Many public servants are still faced with pay freezes as departmental budgets have remained the same with even no allowance for inflation. On top of this, as previously stated, is the intensification of work loads.
There is a definite mood building in public sector workers to do something about the situation. What is required is actual leadership from the top of the union.
The PSA needs to develop a militant programme to defend the public services which gets behind it the support of the general public. It requires a generalised industrial action strategy across all the public sector to defend members and the ethos and ethics of public service.
The actions of the public service general strikes in Greece and Spain shows how to defend members and the public sector Such a co-ordinated movement needs to be built here to force the government's hand.
The PSA biennial conference is to be held in September. It is highly likely the prime minister will address conference. Public sector workers will no doubt be sickened by such a spectacle of a Nat's prime minister potentially lecturing PSA members about pay restraint and efficiency. This nauseating class collaboration approach to unionism has to end. The up and coming conference will be a good place to start challenging such policy and putting forward a more militant platform to defend public sector workers.
End political neutrality
Affiliate to Labour Party
Organise militant action across public service to defend members