CPSU at Public Services International Oceania Advisory Forum 

Being union makes you a part of a global movement (the largest social movement on earth). As public sector unions, we stand united with our colleagues across the globe, and use our united voice to champion human rights, advocate for social justice, and promote universal access to quality public services.  

That’s exactly the purpose of Public Services International (PSI), the global federation of public service unions. Collectively, PSI represents more than 30 million workers across 154 countries.  

The Community & Public Sector Union is proud to be a PSI affiliate, and actively participates in PSI Asia & Pacific campaigns and forums. That’s why we set off to Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand to participate in PSI Asia & Pacific’s Oceania Subregional Advisory Committee (OSRAC).  

OSRAC is an important opportunity to collaborate with fellow public sector unionists in our region to learn, skill-share, and build on PSI’s work in our region. We heard powerful stories from our neighbours campaigning for women’s rights, first nations rights, and climate justice.  

We were hosted by our sister union in Aotearoa – Public Services Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, jointly named with the union’s Māori assembly (Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina) and meaning ‘the collective skills of all our people working together to create good conditions and ways of working.’  

PSA Pasefika co-convenor ‘Ofeina Manuel-Barbarich spoke to how democratic structures that include indigenous knowledges and cultural practices at their heart have helped to grow their union and secure better outcomes for all: “Having strong pasefika leadership in our union leads to strong and quality public services for the community.” 

Te Tiriti centred practice describes ways of organising and structuring work to honour Treaty – in Aotearoa this describes the Treaty of Waitangi. In Australia we have a have a long path ahead to cultural inclusion and recognition of our first peoples. It only takes a look across the Tasman to see the profound benefits we all stand to gain in fostering understanding and supporting the path towards reconciliation with our own first peoples.  

It is our collective loss that in a country which is home to the oldest continuous cultures on our planet, that we continue to deny and ignore, instead of cherishing the deep storylines and knowledge which we so desperately need to address the great challenges facing this precious and fragile land – whether it be climate change, how to care for and manage our natural resources, or in Bruce Pascoe’s words, “…So that we can start to think about the possibilities of this land.” 

On Reconciliation Week, we re-commit ourselves to that work as union members. At the end of the conference, participants from across Oceania stood together in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to support the ‘Yes’ campaign for an constitutionally-enshrined voice to parliament.  

While there, we also joined hundreds of students and workers in Auckland who took to the streets to demand action as part of the School Strike 4 Climate. Together they are calling for: 

  • A 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 (without offsets and using proper accounting); 
  • Supporting transition to 100% regenerative agriculture by 2030; 
  • Priotising Te Tiriti centred climate justice; and 
  • Lowering the voting age to 16.  

Climate justice is and always will be union business, and talking to representatives from the small island states it becomes clear that the climate crisis we are all facing is impacting them now – and promises from wealthy countries on future actions is just not good enough. 

We also heard from Terisa Ngobi from the New Zealand Labour Party, and Teanau Tuiono from the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand to discuss pacific islands priorities, and how to unite and engage workers across Asia & Pacific for climate action, pay equity and gender transformative public services, fair labour migration and quality public services for all. 

PSI is just one of many ways the CPSU supports and participates in broader social movements, whether it be climate justice, gender equality, women’s and LGBTIQA+ rights, and disability justice. Click Here to learn more about our role in Building a Progressive Movement.  

There are countless opportunities for members to get actively involved through their union. Get in touch at r.griffiths@tas.cpsu.com.au to get started. 

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