CPSU branch rejects communications split

March 24, 1999

CPSU branch rejects communications split

By Ben Courtice

MELBOURNE — A major issue at the March 11 Victorian branch conference of the Community and Public Sector Union (PSU group) was a proposal for the Telecommunications section of the union to merge with the TCA (technical and communications) section. This would set up a separate Communications section with control over its own funding.

Most delegates condemned the move, which they said would decimate state branches by removal of funds, impacting particularly on smaller sections which are not large enough to fund their own organisers.

It was seen as a move which would create more separation in what is supposedly still one union. If it goes ahead, many delegates expect the Centrelink section to follow. A report from Telecommunications section secretary Michelle Bisset was criticised for failing to give any concrete information on funding.

Branch officials spoke of a failed proposal last year by CPSU assistant national secretary Doug Lilly to split the union into sections, commenting that the latest move seems intended to implement such a policy by stealth. They criticised the lack of consultation in this instance.

Other delegates pointed out that splitting the union into sections based upon government departments, agencies or other employers was a bad way to organise, merely following governmental decisions and undermining the solidarity of members. The already separate Tax section was cited as an area which was often out of touch with broader developments in the union.

The meeting voted on a motion binding branch representatives to the National Executive to vote against the proposal, and to vote for an alternative proposal which "welcomes proposals that seek to bring together sections that have a community of industrial interest" but defers any decision until the impact of the funding and staffing changes is made clear. While only four voted against this, the outcome was unclear since a card vote, weighted by the number of members represented, was called.

The conference then passed motions supporting the anti-uranium Palm Sunday rally and the Indonesian trade unionist political prisoner Dita Sari, as well as a motion of support for the Victorian Trades Hall campaign for shorter working hours.

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