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CPSU and Labor affiliation

By johnboy - 2 March 2009 15

The Liberal Senator Gary Humphries is very helpfully offering advice to the Community and Public Sector Union on their plans to affiliate with the Labor party:

    “The whole affiliation exercise is misconceived, and many CPSU members know that.

    “Members expect that their union will fight for their jobs, not pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into the coffers of the party that’s cutting those very jobs.

    “The union must end this ridiculous situation by abandoning its affiliation plan,”

Or maybe by getting real access to the party in Government they’ll be better placed to advance their member’s interests?

In any event what do all you public servants think about this issue?

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15 Responses to
CPSU and Labor affiliation
pelican 12:42 pm 06 Mar 09

How can any union be a an advocate for its members if it is affiliated with any political party. Even being mindful of the fact that the Labor Party was borne of the unions, it is time for unions to stand alone and really be a representative for members.

This is the only way that members are assured that their complaints and issues come first over any political agendas or election campaigning.

Why are millions of dollars of memberships used for political donations? This is ludicrous. If there is enough to throw around use it for the benefit of membes or reduce the fees, or hire more staff to cope during the bad times such as the introduction of hideous legislation like Work Choices.

Fred Nurks 12:11 am 05 Mar 09

While the ALP got rid of the restrictions on individual workers, they have kept the restrictions that were in WorkChoices on the operations of unions to be able to properly defend workers. Beef #1, and its a big one. I campaigned in the Your Rights @ Work campaign to get rid of all of WorkChoices, and that campaign got the ALP elected. But they have dumped on us workers.

I understand that other political parties that stood in the 2007 federal election, like the Socialist Alliance and the Greens, have industrial policies of getting rid of the whole of WorkChoices.

But when the CPSU national leadership dropped the ALP affiliation motion in the agenda papers of the union’s Governing Council several years ago, they didn’t offer anyone a comparison of various parties’ industrial policies, they just made out that this was the only choice. I’m pissed at that! Also, after quite some debate, the eventual amended motion said that members would be consulted beforehand (cross our ‘earts!), and that not all regions need to be part of it.

However, what we are seeing is the executive moving methodically to affiliate to every ALP state and territory branch (so far in SA and NSW, and pending in ACT & QLD), absolutely no consultation with members about any alternatives or a debate, and a fig leaf of an opt-out tick box on the website (if you know about it), and a 2cm x 2cm box on joining forms. In other words, sweet FA.

Straight after the election, Rudd said that there would not be a “night of the long knives” for the Howard appointees in the top brass of the public service. However last year he didn’t feel so constrained when his govt axed 3,000 jobs of ordinary Joe & Jill public servants, and now we have several hundred (at least) non-ongoing staff booted out, the Tax Office saying they are going to massively restructure out ongoing staff in their Operations Division, massively boost non-ongoing staff, and outsource much of the remainder, all up likely to axe 3,000 staff; and then last weekend in the Canberra Times we read that Immigration is likely to axe 800 staff. On TV last Sunday, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner seemed to justify all this by claiming that the public service had grown in the latter Howard years. All adds up to an undeclared mini-budget round of cuts, and that’s before we get to what is shaping up to be a horror budget. So as a public servant, I feel the long knife in me. The Howard appointees are still there. Big beef #2, and huge one.

So with two big kicks in the teeth like that, why is the CPSU as a self-respecting union still going ahead with this affiliation? They should at least halt any current and future moves to affiliate to ALP state branches, and do the decent thing and hold a plebiscite of the membership, and show them all the alternative industrial policies of all registered political parties.

And lastly, while I know and understand that many public servants have been drilled with the idea of an ‘apolitical’ public service, because Howard wrote that into the Public Service Act, a union is not the same thing as a public service, and stands separate from it. Therefore the union is a free agent in the industrial, and political, world, and should throw its weight around in both, representing its membership in the public service, who are quite entitled to direct the union as to what positions it takes. That does not compromise how public servants do their job. I also think that the idea of an ‘apolitical’ union is a right wing idea, which is why Howard made sure that public servants were imbued with that notion.

Rather, the real question for CPSU members is which politics, and which political party, best represents their industrial, and political, aims? The CPSU national leadership have not answered that question with their bolt to affiliate straight to the ALP. Wonder what’s in it for them?

PM 10:24 pm 02 Mar 09

Tempestas said :

PM said :

Workchoices itself (as opposed to other various policies of the Howard Govt.) actually affected the public sector quite minimally.

The CPSU has been “”educating” its members of various ALP policies whilst attacking the Coalition’s policies during elections for some time.

Can I make stuff up as well. John Howard was the greatest workers friend ever, bankers only ever do what is in their customers best interest, Sol was a godsend to Telstra, Today Tonight has the highest standards of journalism.

I call bullshit. Ask many staff who worked at DEWR under Boxall how minimally workchoices effected them. You are conflating a union pushing its agenda (one made up by its members strangely enough) with the policy of a political party who probably never bothered to run its ideas past an union who might be effected by that policy.

Happy to be corrected. As far as I’m aware, individual contracts in the public sector existed before the Workchoices legislation. Public sector employment is subject to different legislation than Workchoices. It’s as if you’re suggesting Howard is responsible for Reaganomics or something…

Thumper 10:08 pm 02 Mar 09

What’s Garry Humphries ever done to improve the lot of APS workers?

Last time I looked he wasn’t a union so this is totally relevant…

Tempestas 10:02 pm 02 Mar 09

PM said :

Workchoices itself (as opposed to other various policies of the Howard Govt.) actually affected the public sector quite minimally.

The CPSU has been “”educating” its members of various ALP policies whilst attacking the Coalition’s policies during elections for some time.

Can I make stuff up as well. John Howard was the greatest workers friend ever, bankers only ever do what is in their customers best interest, Sol was a godsend to Telstra, Today Tonight has the highest standards of journalism.

I call bullshit. Ask many staff who worked at DEWR under Boxall how minimally workchoices effected them. You are conflating a union pushing its agenda (one made up by its members strangely enough) with the policy of a political party who probably never bothered to run its ideas past an union who might be effected by that policy.

PM 9:43 pm 02 Mar 09

Workchoices itself (as opposed to other various policies of the Howard Govt.) actually affected the public sector quite minimally.

The CPSU has been “”educating” its members of various ALP policies whilst attacking the Coalition’s policies during elections for some time.

housebound 7:25 pm 02 Mar 09

NickD said :

What’s Garry Humphries ever done to improve the lot of APS workers?

From my time as a PS, I would ask what the CPSU ever did for workers, especially under Hawke-Keating?

I was in a union that was forced to be swallowed up by the CPSU, and it was the worst thing we ever did for workers’ rights. Fisrt major conflict (and quite a serious one, but I can’t go further), and the CPSU caved. Our old union never would have.

My issue isn’t with unions generally – I think we need them – but the CPSU … nah.

Cobrico 7:11 pm 02 Mar 09

The CFMEU is proof of why the CPSU should consider affiliating with the ALP.

A significant slice of every Rudd stimulus dollar will end up in the pockets of CFMEU members. Just think about the installation of fibreglass, the so-called green jobs, the Black Spot program, the infrastructure package, the school building package, the mining projects stimulus. All helping blue-collar workers, but not a single dollar there for the public servants.

This government likes dealing with its (high-donor) mates, you know, the blue-collar unions and the banks. So it’s a sensible call by the CPSU if they want influence.

Of course, it will mean that every public servant may be in breach of the Public Service Act requiring them to be apolitical. Perhaps it’s not such a good idea.

Tempestas 3:19 pm 02 Mar 09

AG Canberra said :

What have they done to re-instate workers comp when travelling to and from work? Nothing.

Until I can see some real value I’m not prepared to hand over my hard earned.

Do you know that or are you just guessing?
Alternatively why should any organisation do anything for people that don’t contribute to them.

I really wonder what people expect to get for their UP to $500 odd a year. We pay that for rego when we know it doesn’t pay for roads, we pay more for all sorts of insurance that actually give us nothing year after yet we have a huge whine about what the Union is not doing for me.

Did you enjoy the weekend? A union fought for that, do you have even a vague OH&S policy in your workplace, a union fought for that too. I’m sure all you big shots can negotiate the best outcomes for yourselves, after all that’s why you are having a whine here.

Back on topic, affiliation is probably one of the necessary evil’s, ALP in govt will say its not prepared to listen unless affiliated, the CPSU lets its members opt out for affiliating so its not like you have to do it. Either way damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

NickD 2:14 pm 02 Mar 09

What’s Garry Humphries ever done to improve the lot of APS workers? Am I correct in assuming that he voted to support the removal of workers comp and to enact WorkChoices?

This was mildly controversial in the department where I worked, but wasn’t a big deal. Most CPSU members for Labor, and many were surprised that the union wasn’t already formally affiliated with the ALP.

Kramer 2:00 pm 02 Mar 09

I have been in the public service for 10+ years and have never been a member of the CPSU.

In the lead up to last election, I heard the CPSU was running an additional campain to attack workchoices and the Howard govt directly, which put a number of members off.

uniqueusername 1:51 pm 02 Mar 09

AG Canberra said :

What have they done to re-instate workers comp when travelling to and from work? Nothing.

Don’t they offer journey insurance for members?

uniqueusername 1:47 pm 02 Mar 09

Historically speaking the CPSU has had an affiliation to the ALP in one way or another since around the late eighties / early nineties. Though until this most recent move the affiliation was limited to a small percentage of its membership in NSW. This was because the NSW branch of one of the unions that amalgamated to form the CPSU (a small blue collar union whos name escapes me) was affiliated to the NSW ALP.

While some may criticise the CPSU’s affiliation to the ALP, I think its the only union that allows it’s members the option of 1. opting out of the ALP affiliation (having thier membership not counted towards the ALP affiliation) and 2. not having thier fees go to the ALP. One may opt out by indicating so on thier membership form, or by contacting the CPSU or visiting the CPSU website.

AG Canberra 1:42 pm 02 Mar 09

On affilliation – what will it gain? Apart from the ability to stack branches…..?

IMHO the union doesn’t really have a great track record in helping the PS workers of the ACT…..

What have they done to re-instate workers comp when travelling to and from work? Nothing.

Until I can see some real value I’m not prepared to hand over my hard earned.

PM 1:29 pm 02 Mar 09

I left the CPSU when this was even flagged as an option.

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