CPSU poll: 'A chance to regain the union'

December 5, 1995

By Dick Nichols Members of the Community and Public Sector Union are presently electing a new president to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of former incumbent Peter Robson. The poll pits Alison Adler, of the broad left group National Challenge, against Margaret Sexton, acting president and candidate of the Progressive Caucus, the ALP-aligned group that controls the union under the leadership of secretary Wendy Caird. The election amounts to a referendum on the big issues affecting public sector workers: enterprise bargaining or across-the-board wage campaigns; copping continuing job losses or real defence of the public sector; and the "flexibilisation" of the public sector or defence of public service working conditions. Adler told Green Left that she would fight to replace enterprise bargaining and trade-offs, actively oppose job losses and the government's "efficiency dividend" (which requires the public service to yield a percentage increase in "efficiency" each year), and fight for a democratic union. She noted that, while some unions were winning wage increases for the next two years in the 11-15% range, the CPSU incumbents had only managed 5.6% — well below the expected inflation rate of 9% over the next two years. The undemocratic structure of the CPSU also features in Adler's campaign. "It's bizarre that National Challenge can win over 40% of the vote and not have one member of the CPSU national executive", Adler said. "We need a radical restructure that ensures resources are allocated equitably and directed to membership needs." Adler also noted that the appointment of Margaret Sexton as acting president meant that Sexton was free to use union resources to present herself around the country during the election campaign. Adler also remarked on the arrogant tone of the present incumbents towards the membership. Faced with the prospect a Liberal federal government, the CPSU has recently been running a campaign to have members' union dues deducted directly from their accounts, instead of by the employer, as is still the main method. Adler agrees with this aim, but she has been appalled to hear that CPSU incumbents have been threatening members with a dollar-a-week "fine" if they don't switch to bank and credit union deductions! Adler was the vice-president of the NSW branch of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association (the forerunner of the CPSU) from 1985-88. A former ALP member, she left that party five years ago. The ballot opened on November 27 and closes on December 18.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.