The incumbent ALP faction has scraped back in to retain control of the 43,000-strong NSW Public Service Association (PSA) after elections held on December 5.
General secretary John Cahill was returned with a much-reduced margin, receiving 4901 votes to the Progressive PSA's (PPSA) Anne Gardiner's 4358 votes (approximately 53% to 47%). Cahill's vote from the last elections in 2004 dropped close to 30% or 2200 votes.
The incumbents won slightly larger percentages for union president, vice-presidents, assistant secretaries and the 45 central councillor positions.
Despite its high vote the PPSA won no positions as the ruling ALP faction changed the voting system earlier this year. The new rules ensured that the PPSA would not increase its representation on the union executive or central council.
In the vote for the state branch of the federal section of the union, the NSW State Public Service Federation, which preceded the main vote, the PPSA won a vice-president position and three of the 10 councillors. These elections were still conducted according to proportional representation.
The PPSA is a broad alliance of rank and file delegates from various departments across the state. The ruling group, an alliance of ALP "left" and ALP right factions, is lead by career union officials.
The PPSA won a strong result despite the shameless use of union resources by the incumbents to profile themselves and misrepresent the PPSA's concerns about trade-offs attached to the recent 12% pay rise, over three years, negotiated by the union.
It will soon be obvious which side was right if the NSW government feels it now has the green light to implement agency based trade-offs and redundancies.