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Nervous union seeks guarantee on PS jobs

Date

Noel Towell

CPSU  union spokesman Vince McDevitt.

CPSU union spokesman Vince McDevitt. Photo: Richard Briggs

The public sector union has asked the Canberra Liberals for guarantees on the job security of the ACT government's 20,000 public servants.

The Labor-affiliated CPSU says it is worried by the mass sacking of state public servants by newly elected conservative governments in New South Wales and Queensland and has called for ''clarity'' from opposition leader Zed Seselja on his plans for the territory's public sector workforce. Mr Seselja said on Wednesday that he would be ''hiring not firing'' if his party wins government on October 20 and in a written response to questions from the CPSU, said that there would be ''no forced redundancies'' under a Canberra Liberals government.

In his response to the union's questionnaire , Mr Seselja, himself a former Commonwealth public servant, promised ''better planning and management'' of the territory's bureaucracy. ''Our public service, through better planning and management of its functions and growth, will enjoy more certainty and stability, with no forced redundancies because of policy changes,'' the Liberals leader wrote.

''This approach will be underpinned by the appointment of a properly resourced, full-time, independent public service commissioner to protect our public servants.''

But that does not go far enough for CPSU regional director Vince McDevitt who says Mr Seselja will be asked to provide assurances on jobs when he and Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, a CPSU member, front an election forum organised by the union on September 25.

''We were looking for answers because some members have expressed concern about the vagueness of some of the policy positions that have been expressed by the Liberals,'' Mr McDevitt said.

''But what we've been told tends to raise more questions than answers.

'' 'No forced redundancies' - what does that mean?''

Mr McDevitt said some of his union's members were watching events in NSW and Queensland nervously. ''The sense that I'm picking up from the membership is that they are well aware of the cuts everywhere else and they are wondering if this is the calm before the storm and they are looking for clarity,'' he said. ''We don't feel that we have got that from the Liberals and we will be asking some tough questions at our forum.''

''It's a bit of a worry obviously, if there's a risk to your ongoing employment, and our members and they want undertakings and assurances and clarity and they have not got that yet.''

In their response to the union, the ACT Greens said they would not be following the lead of Campbell Newman's LNP government in Queensland. ''The Greens have no intention to reduce overall staffing levels and as indicated in previous answers recognise the important contribution that public servants make.

''The Greens have no intention of replicating what was done in Queensland.''

In her response to her union's questionnaire, the Chief Minister, who has imposed successive ''efficiency dividends'' on the service, said that Queensland-style ''large-scale job losses'' were not Labor policy.

''Our aim is to ensure that staffing levels grow sustainably to maintain service standards in line with population and economic growth,'' Ms Gallagher wrote. ''ACT Labor does not have a policy of large-scale job loss like those proposed by the Federal Liberal party or recently elected state Liberal governments.

9 comments

  • What the Unions have to understand,which would be difficult for them in relation to there back grounds,is that Governments have to be run like buisnesses.If a Liberal victory is on the cards for a Federal Government,and a Liberal Victory here,than I think Zed would be able to deal better with Abbott, and reduce damage than Katy and Abbott,since I have seen little resistance from her to Federal sacking here in the Capital from her Labor Federal colleagues..And must admit little resistance from the CPSU...ie: No Strikes!!!!

    Commenter
    Martin Says
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    September 14, 2012, 9:01AM
    • Agreed Martin, but i would go further. If the CPSU wants to be seen as representing the public service and not just the labor party and its re-election, they would be asking the hard questions of all parties, and in particular, focusing on the local governments track record. They seem to accept labor/ greens vague comments, yet their record over the last eleven years is not scrutinised in this area. People might take this union more seriously if they werent affiliated with labor and truly only focused on the protection of the jobs in the sector they are supposed to look after.

      Commenter
      madzac05
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 9:28AM
  • The fundamental conservative ideology is the belief in small government and that as much as possible should be out sourced to private enterprise. Not only will Zed not reduce the damage, he will be part of it because that is what they believe. Canberra will be decimated under an Abbott government and there is zero Zed or Katie can do about it. Of course these cuts will have detrimental effects on private enterprise. If people don't have jobs they won't be spending money. People here Ren 't silly enough to believe Zed could stand up to Abbott. In the debate he stated he wouldn't be inviting Abbott to take part in the campaign. Why would that be? Because he knows that people in Canberra are scared of Abbott's right wing ideological agenda.

    Commenter
    Not Abbott
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    September 14, 2012, 9:47AM
    • The CPSU has to realise they can't trust a politician, especially at election time. Kate may promise them security of their jobs but after election time, who knows what a Labor government will do.

      Labor ACT has proven time and time again how incompetent they are under the leadership of Kate Gallagher. Do Canberrans really want to stay with a government who cannot provide adequate healthcare and shorten hospital waiting times?

      We have to think about the future under another ACT Labor government, just like we have to think of the future under another Gillard government.

      Commenter
      Sharron
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 9:56AM
      • katy says ''Our aim is to ensure that staffing levels grow sustainably to maintain service standards in line with population and economic growth,'' The first question in the debate was from Noel Towell about Health. Katy waffled on. She has clearly FAILED (with a big F) to maintain standards in health in line with population growth. Is she lying or is her aim just off.

        Commenter
        stoney
        Date and time
        September 14, 2012, 9:57AM
        • My most rewarding experience of the CPSU was resigning from it. I discovered there are better more rewarding charities to donate to. As Martin as highlighted the CPSU always has a lot to say about the conservative side of politics and their policies, but when the ALP does the same nothing or very little - remember 2007/08 when there were thousands of redundancies in the Commonwealth Agencies. Not much noise now about the ever increasing efficiency dividends which in effect equate to on going staff cut backs.

          Commenter
          Steve
          Date and time
          September 14, 2012, 10:31AM
          • 20000 sounds like alot of public servents for the ACT, Its only a small area with a population of less then 400000, It might need to be reduced

            Commenter
            jake
            Location
            canberra
            Date and time
            September 14, 2012, 11:59AM
            • Katy has selected her words very carefully.

              She and her team can't disclose her true intent so has phrased it in way there is hope there will be no job losses

              Labor need all the votes they can rally as we draw closer to an election so becareful Canberra.

              Realty is under a labor government the CPSU will have to work hard to miantain positions

              Commenter
              Fido
              Date and time
              September 14, 2012, 1:45PM
              • As Australia is bulging at the seams....so will the public servants required run the circus.

                Commenter
                dusty
                Date and time
                September 14, 2012, 5:41PM
                Comments are now closed
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