Press Release – Public Service Association
The country’s largest trade union is turning 100 and is kicking off a series of centenary year celebrations today.
The PSA grew out of the New Zealand Civil Service Association in 1913 when three young Education Department clerks decided to form an association to provide ordinary public servants with the support they needed. Their actions followed the passage of the 1912 Public Service Act which created a politically neutral, career public service.
Over the past century the PSA has proudly represented public servants and fought to improve their working lives. Many of the things it has fought for, such as superannuation, have benefited all workers in New Zealand. It won equal pay for women, flexible working hours and annual leave and has helped to create a politically neutral and corruption free public service that is the envy of many countries in the world.
The PSA has grown from being a union for government workers to one which represents 58,000 workers in local government, the health sector, crown agencies, state-owned enterprises and community and government funded agencies.
To mark those achievements a special event is being held in Auckland involving about 150 current and former PSA members. It will kick off a series of planned celebrations around the country during the year. A centenary banner crafted by Wellington textile artist Genevieve Packer in the old trade union tradition will be unveiled and two books on the history of the PSA will be launched.
The PSA is also acknowledging its role in an unfortunate and defining piece of New Zealand fashion history – the introduction of the public servant walk short.
In 1957, when there was no air-conditioning, the PSA campaigned for office workers to be allowed to wear shorts because of the summer heat. The State Services Commission eventually agreed in April 1958, insisting on knee socks as well. Read the full walk shorts story.