Move defeated for public service campaign against sackings

Issue 

Move defeated for public service campaign against sackings

Move defeated for public service campaign against sackings

By Chris Slee

The tax section council of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) met in Sydney from October 23 to 26. Much of the meeting was taken up with trying to limit the damage to working conditions resulting from the recently adopted enterprise agreement.

The enterprise agreement resulted in a reduction in workers' entitlement to sick leave without pay. The union is resisting management's attempt to make this retrospective.

The agreement also provides for a new performance management system, one element of which is "peer feedback". As interpreted by management, this involves workers rating each others' work performance and conformity to "Australian Tax Office values" — a potentially very divisive process.

The union is trying to limit the damage by saying that the performance management system should have no links to pay, inefficiency proceedings or promotion, and that peer feedback should be voluntary and not involve a numeric rating system.

The section council considered how to respond to management's plans for compulsory redundancies. When sackings were threatened last year, the union was able to take "protected" (legal) industrial action and defeated the threat, because no enterprise agreement had been signed.

Now that an agreement exists, industrial action is illegal. The section council decided to launch a publicity and political campaign against the sackings. It discussed ways of getting around the ban on industrial action.

I moved for an Australian Public Service-wide industrial and community campaign against job cuts and privatisation. I pointed out that the entire public service is facing similar attacks, and argued that a united response by the whole CPSU and supporters of the public sector would be the most effective way to fight the attacks.

The motion included proposals for local protest activities and capital city demonstrations by CPSU members and allies.

Section secretary Shane O'Connell opposed the motion, saying he doubted that CPSU members would support "rent-a-crowd type activities". The motion was defeated.

A motion calling for a union-community campaign against the GST was also defeated.

The section council expressed solidarity with South Korean unionists arrested in a government crackdown and called on the International Labour Organisation to take up the issue.

[Chris Slee is a CPSU section councillor from Melbourne's Casselden Place Tax Office.]

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