CPSU delegates fight budget cuts
By Peter Webster
From July 3, many DSS workplaces around Australia will be "downsized". The federal government has slashed the budget for 1995-96 and, despite concerns raised by members, the national and most state executives of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) have not coordinated an industrial campaign.
The frustration is mirrored by the workplace delegates, who have no effective voice within their state branches. Many a motion has been passed calling on the national delegates' committee, the combined delegates' conference and the state and national executives to organise mass meetings and lead by example. Such motions, however, are largely ignored. Individual workplaces must look after their own interests and take a stand against the cuts.
Those who have, have incurred the displeasure of the department's national administration. Three offices in Sydney — Ashfield, Campsie and Cabramatta — were visited by the assistant secretary of resources, who told the delegates that: the department did not have a resources problem; they were the ones causing stress to staff; the department was overstaffed; new staffing profiles would be imposed on their offices whether they liked it or not; if we did not cooperate the department would outsource functions to private enterprise; and if we continued our resistance to the cuts, we would be hauled in front of the Industrial Relations Commission.
CPSU members had placed great hope in last year's resourcing agreement between the department and the CPSU. A centrepiece was the setting up of work-based teams which would look at better funding and workload management. But these teams have only drained delegates' time by coercing them to make compromises in the spirit of "office business plans". They have also hidden problems by deciding not to carry out certain functions within a workplace if the resources are not available.
The cuts will decrease the level of service to DSS clients and increase the strain on staff, who are already unable to cope with the extra duties placed upon them by the government's White Paper initiatives. Come July 3, Ashfield, Campsie and Cabramatta offices will be making a stand with or without support from other workplaces or the national executive.