Public Service Association – Members should ask for a discount on Union Fees

On Twitter late at night when I was trying to distract myself from the events of yesterday Brenda Pilott sent me this tweet in response to a conversation about the extreme unlikelihood that Cactus Kate would ever work for a union:

I responded that unions indeed have dodgy accounts to which her response was:

Coincidentally when I checked my email was an analysis of the PSA’s financials by the redoubtable Owl.

Public Service Association – Members should ask for a discount on Union Fees (Observation by the Owl)

The PSA Members should ask for a discount on Fees.

I am amazed to read in their 2011 Financial Reports and Reports that they had to increase union fees to members because (paraphrased by the Owl for simplicity but from their Reports)

  1. Increases to GST
  2. Increases in Business costs
  3. Ensure sound financial balance sheet

Members should note:

  1. There were two major increases – Wages by $500k (no GST there!)
  2. The second increase was $2.2M spent on travel and meetings yet they spent $400k on new IT projects including video linking all their site and upgrading all mobile phones for 131 staff (up two from the previous year  – yet travel and meeting increased $200k)
  3. Their Balance Sheet is valued at $25M with $6M in holiday homes and made an operating surplus of over a $1M (excluding tax and depreciation)
  4. The PSA have a number of staff on contracts doing project work – yet they are criticizing the number of consultants being used in the Public Service (Have I read this wrong?)

Observation by the Owl

The PSA earns a 6% -8% return on investment (depends how you calculate it could be higher %) therefore members should be reaping the benefits of their investment in IT and a $1M surplus is excessively high for an Incorporated Society.

My calculations are that each member should get a $100.00 discount from 2013 onwards.


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  • BJ

    Yes if they have now have a surplus of $1m then there was obviously no need to increase members fees. Maybe this union of government employees is planning quite a few anonymous donations to the Labour Party come 2014 whether their members vote Labour or not.

    • owl

      I would of made reference to their 2012 financial accounts but they had not been filed yet..even though they we are to arrange 100’s of members to their AGM. As for the Auditors comment – how many changes and law cases have there been over the last two decades about auditors. Auditors now have companies so they can’t be sued as individuals unless in special circumstances. The PSA accounts are not dodgy in my view but there has been excessive unions fees increases and members deserve a dividend back. What does a union do with $25m worth of assets???

      • Butts_McButts

        Owl, before we drag auditors into this, maybe you should explain the expectation gap to people and what an audit actually is. It’s perfectly possible for a company to pass an audit but have people with their hands in the til.

      • Callum

        Auditors can ONLY use a company for audits that do not require a natural person to sign off. So that excludes all company audits and any other statutory audits. The company structure is still open to challenge in the courts if things go bad so I think you are seriously overplaying that angle as a means of denigrating auditors.

        • owl

          PSA talks rubbish…audited accounts or not. Members fees increased to pay for a 3.4% wage increase at the union. Actually they should get a massive rebate

          • GregM

            I am certainly not an accountant, but the published accounts are very clear. The PSA is bullshitting the members, I agree with Owls conclusions.
            I also think it is time that unions should no longer be able to set themselves up as incorporated societies, and pay no tax, but lobby the government on how to spend other peoples tax payments.
            Or have I got this wrong?

  • Sooty

    Would be interesting to match their accounts before and after each election