Thursday, June 16, 2005

PSA's Inappropriate Behaviour

I just came across this post on the Green's blog this morning, and had to disagree.

I have absolutely no objection to the PSA union coming up with policy comparisions and the like, and I have no problem with them distributing them to members. What they should not be doing, is sending it through the public domain such as newpaper advertisments.

From State Servants, Political Parties and Elections: Guidance for the 2005 Election Period -

The main message is that, if State servants are to be able to effectively serve successive Governments that may be drawn from different political parties, they must be, and be seen to be, politically neutral.

I'll be the first to support the PSA with the right to share information about political party policy with their members. However, they should not be doing this through the public domain, they should be doing it through union email lists and newsletters and keeping such commentry out of the public domain. Now that the PSA has entered the public domain, it will be much more difficult to see State Servants as politically neutral.

In fact, I have just written an email to election@ssc.govt.nz to complain about this issue.

Hello,

I would just like to raise a concern about the PSA Union taking a partisan stand on party policy. Whilst it is not within the bounds of the guidance document (State Servants, Political Parties and Elections: Guidance for the 2005 Election Period), I feel it is poor form to be distributing this information to members of the union via the public domain, when they should be doing it in a more subtle manner - such as via union newsletters or union email lists.

Such a public display by an organisation that is representative of
State servants seems to run counter to this statement in the guidance document.

"The main message is that, if State servants are to be able to effectively serve successive Governments that may be drawn from different political parties, they must be, and be seen to be, politically neutral."

With the PSA Union making such public statements on behalf of the State servants they represent, they can no longer be regarded as being politically neutral - and one would have to wonder about State servants desire to work under a National government, should one be elected.

Had it taken place in communication solely with members of the union, I would have no problem. However, since it has taken place in the public domain, one has to question the ability of the State servants to be seen as politically netural.

You should refine the guidance for the next election to also cover organisations that are representation of State servants to ensure such
inappropriate public displays of behaviour don't happen again.

Regards

I'm happy with all other unions taking a public approach, but State Servants can't, because they are so close to the politics. They have to take a publicly neutral stance towards all political parties. What they do in private amongst the membership I don't care, but they can't go about slagging political parties in public.

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