WA DSS delegates oppose redundancies
By Jonathan Strauss
PERTH — Community and Public Sector Union delegates in the Department of Social Security decided on February 7 to oppose redundancies proposed by DSS Area North (covering the northern half of Perth and much of country WA) management.
Staffing shortages in DSS are chronic, with resulting delays and errors. The situation has been worsening as the social security system becomes more complex and more people rely on it to survive.
CPSU members in DSS took industrial action last year to try to get more staff. The resulting agreement should have at least reduced pressures to cut staff because of budget over-runs.
In WA, management, after cursorily advising union representatives that 50 redundancies (out of about 800 staff) were proposed, last month sent letters inviting expressions of interest to all staff. This placed pressure on union members and delegates to accept the redundancies from members eager to leave a stressful work environment with bonus payments.
Unfortunately, delegates did not initially decide to oppose the redundancies, which would clearly worsen the working conditions of members who would remain.
At their February 7 meeting, however, a number of delegates again argued that members wanted to see more staff in DSS, not job cuts. The delegates then voted to oppose the redundancies, calling on the CPSU national office to delay approval of redundancies, if offered, pending the result of a proposed new funding model that may resolve some of the under-funding problems.