ACT News


Nervous union seeks guarantee on PS jobs

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.


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