A severe balance of payments crisis in late 1957 sabotaged the PSA’s campaign for equal pay for women, postponed agreed public sector pay increases and also resulted in members’ simple pleasures becoming more expensive.
Faced with a sudden decline in the economy, the newly elected Labour government refused to respond to the PSA’s submissions on equal pay and made no allowances for equal pay in the 1958 Budget. This was in spite of election promises to implement equal pay over a seven year period.
The PSA also clashed with the government after it tried to refute that there was an agreement to raise public sector salaries in February 1958, and then subsequently postponed the increases for a year. Further angering public servants was the 1958 Budget’s increase of the excise duties on petrol, cars, alcohol and tobacco. Understandably, this was seen as an attack on the working man’s simple pleasures. As a result, the 1958 Budget became known as the ‘Black Budget’.
(Sources: C. John McDermott and Rishab Sethi, 'Balance of payments – What is the balance of payments?’, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/balance-of-payments/page-1 ; Bert Roth, Remedy for Present Evils: A history of the New Zealand Public Service Association from 1890, New Zealand Public Service Association, 1987)