(e) Gaining influence beyond the workplace

The PSA is a political organisation

The PSA is a political organisation. By this we do not mean that we are party political. Rule 7(2) of the PSA rules makes it clear that the union cannot affiliate with or make any donation to a political party. However, we are inevitably involved in the politics of the workplace and, given that our members are mostly employed by public sector organisations or in the delivery of public services, we need to engage with the government, political parties and other organisations involved in the political process in order to advance our members’ interests.
The PSA is committed to the promotion of quality public services and to worker and union rights. We will seek to gain influence with government, political parties and others, both between elections and during elections to promote our views on these issues. During elections we will promote PSA policy to the political parties and inform members about which parties’ policies best align with ours. This is an important contribution to the democratic process and essential if we are to be effective on members’ behalf.

Promoting quality public services

The PSA provides a voice for members beyond the workplace on issues that impact upon the working lives of our members and the services they provide.
The PSA advocates for quality public services and for those who deliver them in often difficult circumstances. Given the high levels of media interest in how public money is spent, and how well public services perform, the PSA and its members are often in the news.
The PSA is active in promoting public services and our strategic agenda . We also defend the interests of our members when politicians, and others with an agenda, attack public services.

Worker rights and union rights

The actions of government impact significantly on workers’ rights at work, including union rights. Employment legislation governs such important matters as collective bargaining, the right of union officials to enter the workplace, workers’ rights to take personal grievances, and health and safety at work.

These important rights have been built up over decades of work by the PSA and other unions and we must remain active politically in order to defend what has been achieved and seek improvements. The Department of Labour website contains information on the legislation that affects workers when they are at work, e.g. the Employment Relations Act, the Holidays Act, the Minimum Wage Act, the Wages Protection Act, the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

PSA activities and campaigns

The PSA seeks to gain influence beyond the workplace through a range of activities. We lobby politicians and officials, work with the media and organise campaigns. We prepare well-researched submissions to select committees, inquiries and other official bodies, meet regularly with those who influence policy and sit on government working parties and project groups. Wherever possible we also work with other unions, employers and other groups with whom we have a shared interest.
PSA members may become involved in some of these activities, usually through campaigns or by being asked to represent the union on a working group (the PSA has expectations of how these representatives will work.
The PSA is actively involved in campaigning on a number of issues that are important to the membership as a whole, or to particular sections of the membership. Campaigning is consistent with our purpose and usually involves improving the understanding of the public, politicians and stakeholders about the issue concerned. Current campaigns which the PSA is involved with can be found on the PSA web site.

PSA and the media

The PSA regularly gains both local and national media coverage on issues of concern to members. There is a PSA Media Relations Policy to ensure a co-ordinated and consistent approach to dealing with the media, and to provide guidelines to PSA staff and elected officials.

The PSA Media Advisor co-ordinates media communications and media liaison.All media comment on workplace disputes, matters of PSA policy and operation, and public sector issues must come from or through the Media Advisor, therefore:

  • media inquiries directed to staff or elected officials should be referred to the Media Advisor, and
  • the Media Advisor must be kept advised of all staff liaison with the media.
By delegation of a National Secretary, the Media Advisor may at times provide direct media comment.
The authorised spokespeople of the PSA are the National Secretaries.
On a case by case basis, the following may be decided:
  • matters where it is appropriate for the PSA President to be the spokesperson
Spokespeople must brief the Media Advisor after speaking to the media about any issues arising from the contact. This helps to achieve a consistent line and to monitor media coverage.

Representing PSA to government

Any approach on PSA business by any PSA member, staff or elected officials to government ministers, select committees or senior members of political parties (other than in their capacity as local MPs) requires the prior approval of the secretariat.

Any member acting as a delegated representative of the PSA must reflect PSA policy and strategy and unless otherwise agreed, delegated representatives will have no authority to enter into any commitment on behalf of the PSA.