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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 7, No. 1 March 28, 1944

Public Service

Public Service

Today there is probably a greater proportion of student representation in the Public Service than ever before, and they enjoy better wages and conditions than any public servants have in the past. Only the naive will imagine that these improvements are due to the spontaneous and unassisted benevolence of any political party. The majority of students, realising that the growth of organised workers' movements is the direct result of bad wages and worse conditions of work, will find a more convincing explanation in this comparison. From 1915 to 1938 the membership of the Public Service Association rose steadily from 54% (of the Public Service) to 90%. During these years the P.S.A. has struggled with varying success and inadequate support, to protect and improve the position of the public servant. Among its achievements has been the attainment of the right of public servants to be members of a political party, the restoration of depression cuts, and the payment (at time and a half rates) for all overtime. In addition to these successes there have been numerous claims affecting small sections of the service which have been effectively supported by the Association.

Without organisation the public servant is particularly helpless. He is forbidden to make public statements affecting his work and has no access to any governing body. The P.S.A. to some extent compensates for this, as both the Government and the Public Service Commissioner recognise it as speaking for the public service on both general and personal matters.

It is obvious that the P.S.A. has still much to achieve, in the improvement of the immediate conditions of public servants, and in elevating its own position, that it may fight more effectively in the future. There is still room for improvement within the Association itself, particularly in the need for a more democratic selection of delegates from departments; but these reforms will, not be achieved by sitting outside and criticising.

Today there is an increasing threat to all sections of the working class, and the need for vigorously organised action is greater than ever. Instead, we find that over the last five years the number of public servants who are members has dropped to 72% (1942). In spite of this much has been done, though much more would have been done had there been more vigorous support. It is therefore the duty of all public servants, particularly students, to join the Association, eager for more democratic control of their Association and, above all, willing to take in active part in its uphill struggle for better conditions.

So get in touch with your delegate at work and join Now.

We regret that owing to pressure of space we have been obliged to hold over to next issue a review of two publications by A. R. C. Hare.