Having just struggled to get its members salary increases that reflected the high levels of post war inflation, the PSA was threatened with staffing and salary cuts as recession hit in the second half of 1921
Faced with the government’s clear directive to cuts costs and reduce the size of the public service, the PSA could only decide which staff should go first. The PSA executive decided that temporary staff should be first, followed by those who were eligible for superannuation, then men and women without dependents, and finally men and women with dependents.
In January 1922 the government introduced a Public Expenditure Adjustment Bill, providing for cuts in state salaries on a sliding scale. Public servants responded with angry meetings throughout the country. The Opposition attacked the bill’s inequality in proposing heavy cuts for those on low salaries while the Governor General and judges were exempt. However, the bill was passed into law with only minor modifications. Meetings between the PSA executive and Prime Minister William Massey in January and June achieved little in the way of reductions or delays to the proposed salary cuts.
(Source: Bert Roth, Remedy for Present Evils: A history of the New Zealand Public Service Association from 1890, New Zealand Public Service Association, 1987)