Public servants: Bullied, overworked and underpaid

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Public servants are working around 20,000 additional unpaid hours per week, or one million hours per year, as they struggle with “unmanageable workloads” that can’t be maintained.
That is New Zealand, according to a new report by Victoria University’s Centre for Labour, Employment and Work, but the findings have much to offer other developed nations.
“An incredible one million hours per year of unpaid overtime are worked to ensure New Zealanders can access quality public services, which demonstrates the commitment of public servants to their job goes way beyond what they are contracted to do,” said Richard Wagstaff, Public Service Association (PSA) National Secretary.
“But it is also a sign of unmanageable workloads.”
Wagstaff said that while public servants want to make a difference, both their careers and their productivity levels are “held back by poor workplace culture”.
“Public servants say they are committed to making a difference and to their job and to the public they serve, but that commitment does not extend to the organisations they work for,” he said.
“Of real concern is the fact that one third of public servants have experienced bullying in the last six months, adding to the pressure faced by public sector workers. Their productivity, and the public services New Zealanders value, are continually hurt by harmful workplace culture, including bullying and overwork.”
The report also found that gender pay inequality is alive and well, with the average men’s pay band recorded as $60,000 to $70,000, or $10,000 higher than the women’s average.
Report authors Pip Desmond and Geoff Plimmer said career breaks for raising children may contribute to the pay gap, adding that women “must negotiate differently from men in asking for pay rises in order to overcome gender stereotypes”.
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  • Justin B. on 2014-10-21 1:20:02 PM

    In Canada, I would say our public servants are certainly not overworked. But speaking to contacts in the public service, there is a lot of wasted labour and resources as well as some incredibly toxic work environments. Unfortunately, the unions make it difficult to affect change.

  • Paul R. on 2014-10-28 2:11:17 PM

    I would say that Justin B.'s view of Canadian public servants is more informed by the opinions of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation than by actual research and observation. If you look at studies on the public service by academics like Linda Duxbury, you'll see that the situation in Canada is at least as grim as in New Zealand. Here's a link to Duxbury talking about the pubic service work environment in 2012:

  • leon on 2014-10-30 2:09:01 PM

    Riiiiiiiight Justin B. that is why a large number of my coworkers in HR, come in on their weekends to "catch up" on work they couldn't get done in the work week....for no pay. i agree with Paul R., it is a problem, to provide the level of service expected with a continuous erosion of support to do the work.
    Additionally, none of the Government HR professionals i work with are union employees, these are confidential exclusions (as are most in government) and don't have union rights, so stop with the union bashing, this is about hard working people having expectations placed on them that are not acheivable in the regular work week. If the work Public Servants do was easy, anyone could/would do it.

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