BY PAUL OBOOHOV
Opposition candidate Andrew Hall has won 45.1% in the ballot for the position of national president of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU). Hall is a member of the militant Members First group within the union.
"This election result is an exciting development in building an alternative, activist, democratic, fighting type of unionism, and a real slap in the face to the conservative misleadership of the union", Hall told Green Left Weekly.
"Our campaign provided a positive vision in the face of a haemorrhaging union. It clearly shows that discontent with the current leadership policies continues to grow, while support is building for the inclusive policies of struggle and solidarity of Members First."
In two of the seven divisions of the union — border protection and international affairs, and communications — Hall received 52.7% and 54.9% of the vote respectively. The communications division, which covers CPSU members working for TV stations, mobile phone companies and phone service centres, has been a priority area for recruiting to the CPSU in recent years.
Hall is very please with his high vote in union's border protection and international affairs division. During the election campaign, he highlighted his political activism in the anti-war and refugees' rights movements and the fact that he is the coordinator of the Public Servants for Refugees network.
"Many public service workers are dismayed at the union's conservative responses to the issues of the war on Iraq and the government's treatment of refugees, with many workers in this division forced to carry out government policies they strongly disagree with", Hall told GLW.
"The overall election result shows a strong and growing sentiment for the union to take more positive positions against war, and in support of human rights as well as other important social issues such as campaigns to save Medicare and to stop attacks on education."
In the tax/revenue, science and the health and community support divisions of the union, Hall received, respectively, 49.6%, 48.8% and 49.6% of the vote.
Hall's campaign also focused on building a CPSU willing to follow the positive examples of teachers, nurses, university staff, building workers and state public servants in taking strike action to improve their wages and working conditions.
He advocate that the CPSU struggle for an Australian Public Service-wide agreement to maximise workers' collective strength, initially via pattern bargaining, and that it fight against the federal government's next wave of anti-union laws.
The voter turn-out in the election (12,487) was just under 20% of the union's membership.
Inspired by Hall's result, Members First activists across the country are planning to get better organised. Members First can be contacted at <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or by phoning 0438 624 744.
From Green Left Weekly, December 3, 2003.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.