In 1935 a number of countries fully restored public sector salaries, prompting a small CSO delegation led by the PSA’s Millar, to meet with Finance Minister Coates.
Coates refused to make any promises but claimed to be “anxious to do the right thing”. As a result of this unsatisfactory meeting, the CSO launched a campaign of meetings throughout New Zealand. The PSA, however, decided not to take part in local meetings.
In his 1935 budget speech Coates announced a further 7 1/2 per cent salary increase for public servants, to take effect from 1 October 1935. Public servants were understandably unhappy with this low offer, as over 100 local bodies had recently made full restoration to their employees. Millar in his October editorial in the Public Service Journal, however, was encouraged that public service salary increases received precedence over general tax cuts, a move which indicated that the government recognized “the priority of Service claims”.
The CSO met again with Forbes and Coates. With a general election only weeks away, the ministers were happy to make non-specific promises for future full restoration. However, the only actual concession made was to backdate the increase to 1 August.
(Sources: Bert Roth, Remedy for Present Evils: A history of the New Zealand Public Service Association from 1890, New Zealand Public Service Association, 1987; Public Service Journal, XXII (10), October 1932)