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Fears of PS job cuts stir campaign

A frame from the CPSU's new ad campaign against Tony Abbot's plans to cut jobs from the Commonwealth public sector.

A frame from the CPSU's new ad campaign against Tony Abbot's plans to cut jobs from the Commonwealth public sector. Photo: Supplied

The public service union will convene a ''council of war'' in Canberra on Thursday to plan a high-profile election year campaign against Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's vow to cut public sector jobs.

The campaign by the Community and Public Sector Union will pitch directly to the prospect of the loss of government services under the scenario of thousands of public servants losing their jobs.

The union will spearhead the push back against the Coalition with the support of the ACTU. The strategy includes a new online and social media campaign attacking the Coalition's plan to cut jobs and services.

One of the Coalition's signature policies is reducing the federal public service by 12,000 positions through natural attrition.

The union's national secretary, Nadine Flood, fears the cuts to jobs would be higher.

"There is a growing concern the Coalition could win the federal election and do massive damage to public services and workplace rights,'' she told Fairfax Media on the eve of the governing council meeting.

''Increasingly what we see coming from the Coalition is cuts that would hit Canberra agencies very, very hard.

''Public services will be at the heart of this election campaign.

''Our members and supporters will mount a robust defence against Coalition plans to cuts jobs and outsource services to the private sector with Big Society-style reforms that will only benefit large corporations.''

Ms Flood again called on Mr Abbott to ''come clean'' on the extent of public sector jobs cuts.

''One minute it is 12,000 jobs, the next he and Joe Hockey are saying how there were 20,000 too many public servants in Canberra,'' she said.

''Now their cheerleaders are urging them to cut 24,000. Either way, it's clear they have it in for the public sector.''

She said the union would work with the ACTU and other unions to promote public services as an election issue.

''We want to get the message out to 1.8 million union members around the country about what the Coalition is proposing on public services and on fair work laws and other issues for all working people,'' Ms Flood said.

She said ''extreme conservative think tanks'' such as the Institute of Public Affairs and the Centre for Independent Studies were urging Mr Abbott to make deeper cuts if he wins office.

The union's online video advertisement says the proposed Coalition job cuts represent creating an entire suburb of jobless people.

Ms Flood said the union had been lobbying the government not to make further public service job cuts in the budget in May.

''We're pushing the government to make a good decision on public sector jobs and funding in this year's budget despite the obvious revenue and spending pressures,'' she said.

''We're pleased to see government ministers acknowledging that you can't fund major new initiatives such as the national disability insurance scheme through public service savings.''

This week the union said it was alarmed the Institute of Public Affairs had discussed proposed savings with the Coalition that include cutting 24,000 ''less productive'' government jobs from ''bloated'' departments.

The Coalition warned last week an Abbott government might sack staff from the doomed Climate Change Department if they refused to take redundancies.

49 comments

  • When it takes 5 public servants to do the job of 1, I certainly support job cuts. The public service is too bloated.

    Commenter
    Adzz
    Location
    Canberra, Australia
    Date and time
    March 21, 2013, 8:14AM
    • They are like leaches sucking the life blood from the economy with no returne they are not very productive Yes minister!!!!

      Commenter
      Bruce I vote
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 10:06AM
    • Could not agree more, I have worked in public service and to see people sitting around on face book, or just talking on the phone to friends all day. 4 people just played games all day. I only lasted 2 yrs and went back to corporate world.

      Commenter
      EX PS
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 10:22AM
    • I am not a public servant but get heartily sick of the anti public sector rhetoric from the Coalition. It's conservative ideology that the public service should be slashed and everything farmed off to private enterprise. This proved a disaster in the past when Howard did it. He dismantled I.T departments everywhere and then had to hire people on contract. Contrary to the drivel espoused by the conservatives most public servants are hard working and perform tasks required by government. Some of the mooted changes, such as privatising the ABC and SBS are a disgrace and would fundamentally change Australian society. This government has already cut the public service massively. The slashing of public sector jobs is simply Coalition ideology, based on the black hole myth. It doesn't have to make sense, it's simply that they supposedly believe in small government.

      Commenter
      Eric Olthwaite
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 10:55AM
    • And on what evidence to you claim that it currently takes 5 public servants to do the job of 1, and that the APS is too bloated? It's certainly not the case in my experience. Certainly, there are isolated areas that are top heavy - but this isn't even what conservatives are talking about. The Opposition is talking about wiping out entire depts like Climate Change (because they don't believe in it) and taking a massive axe to DEEWR because "the Feds don't run schools" (ignoring that EWR stands for Employment and Workplace Relations.) The Institute is proposing scrapping the Human Rights Commission altogether - which I guess makes it easier for them to treat asylum seekers like savages.

      Unfortunately, they aren't talking about downsizing to make people do more work - they're talking about a massive axe to entire departments and entire programs that Australians rely on. Cuts Hurt Everyone is a really clever campaign, because the cuts don't just hurt the employees, they hurt the community too.

      Commenter
      AndyG123
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 11:02AM
    • Cobblers. What about the departments which have already been slashed? I have a friend in the tax department whose section has been slashed. He is now working twelve to fourteen hour days doing the work which used to be done by four people. It's easy to make ill informed, ignorant comments about public servants because they're an easy target. Yet again we have the Coalition deliberately dividing the community. Bashing public servants goes down a treat with the rest of Australia. Hockey said,"why would we care about Canberra, they don't vote for us". The reality is that they'll rehire them within a year or so when they realise the government can't function without them. In the meantime untold damage will be done to Canberra. If the suggested figure of 24,000 is correct then Canberra will take years to recover. What the public service bashes fail to understand is that every small business in Canberra relies on revenue from public servants. Slash the public service and you destroy many family businesses.

      Commenter
      Easy target
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 11:19AM
    • Well, let's just keep spending on credit mate. Buy what you can't afford, just ask for pay rise when things get tough NOT!!!

      Commenter
      jo
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 11:24AM
    • Dont exaggerate.

      Its 10 to 1.

      Commenter
      evanism
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 2:28PM
  • SO you think there havent been many many jobs cut under the present government? This has been happening for years folk, lets not get carried away and think it only will happen with a Coalition Government. Its happening now and will continue even if the Labor Government was to continue.

    Commenter
    Jess
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    March 21, 2013, 9:00AM
    • I agree Adzz, the public service needs culling.

      Commenter
      Sharron
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 9:00AM

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