Following the November 1928 election, the PSA was optimistic that salaries would soon be restored to their pre-1922 levels. The United party had defeated the Reform party. Labour held the balance of power.
This seemed propitious as in 1928 United had supported Labours’ motion to restore public service salary levels. Prime Minister Joseph Ward further encouraged these expectations when he met with PSA delegates after the election.
However, when the government’s decision on salary levels came, in the unusual form of a press statement from the Prime Minister, it was a blow to the public sector. Ward claimed it was not an opportune time to fund increases and argued that public sector salaries were comparable with remuneration in outside employment.
The PSA sought the Labour party’s help. On November 4, Labour leader Harry Holland moved for an overhaul of existing salary schedules, establishment of a minimum adult wage, and a 5 % increase. The costs of this were to be borne by those on incomes over 1000 pounds. This motion was defeated by the votes of United and Reform. This disappointment for public servants was compounded when, just four days later, MP’s voted themselves a 100 pound bonus.
(Source: Bert Roth, Remedy for Present Evils: A history of the New Zealand Public Service Association from 1890, New Zealand Public Service Association, 1987)