14 December 2023

CPSU votes to keep same national leadership

| Chris Johnson
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Woman in blue top

CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly keeps her job as members vote for the status quo. Photo: File

The Community and Public Sector Union’s national executive remains the same following the reelection of the existing leadership team.

The Australian Electoral Commission declared the union’s election results late on Wednesday (13 December), which returned Melissa Donnelly as national secretary and kept her team intact.

The incumbents claimed victory early, Ms Donnelly posting on her team’s Facebook page a day before results were declared that she had been reelected.

“Results from the count run by the AEC this morning have revealed strong support for the Melissa Donnelly Team across all positions,” she said on Tuesday.

“CPSU members voted for unity, for experience, expertise and stability. And they will not be let down.

“We would like to thank all of our supporters across the union. To have your support year in and year out is a privilege not lost on us, but it is particularly appreciated this year.

“2023 has been an incredibly successful year for our union, and 2024 will see us continue to deliver and build on the wins and progress we’ve seen in the last 12 months.

“We will continue to build our union to deliver more secure, permanent, well-paid jobs, safer workplaces and a bigger, bolder public service.

“Our priority has and always will be to fight for and empower all CPSU members.”

READ ALSO Secretary of PM&C foresees a Back to the Future for the APS

The union’s top jobs had been hotly contested by breakaway grassroots campaigners Members United.

Their campaign centred on the controversial APS wages negotiations, promising to fight harder for a better deal if they were elected.

Members United targeted the union’s close relationship with the Australian Labor Party and questioned Ms Donnelly’s position on the ALP’s national executive.

They called on her to resign her Labor post, saying the union was far too close to the government to fight it over public servants’ pay.

They even threatened Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher’s preselection if they had control of the CPSU’s leadership.

Following the declaration of election results, Members United lead candidate Will Mudford said the team had staged a good campaign and had opened up democracy in the CPSU.

“Unfortunately, Members United were not successful in winning any of the six executive leadership positions this year,” he said.

“This CPSU election represented the first fully contested election in 18 years. The voter turnout of 21 per cent represents a near doubling of voter turnout over previous elections.

“Thousands of CPSU members voted for Members United candidates, an impressive feat despite not having incumbency and little name recognition before launching.

“This signals that there is a strong appetite for reform.

“Any instance where a group of rank-and-file members challenge institutional power face an uphill battle.

READ ALSO A year of scandal and soul-searching for the APS

“Members United points out that there is no proportional representation in the CPSU’s elected structures, with the rules skewed to a majoritarian ‘winner takes all’ system. This is a huge issue that stifles the union’s internal democracy and must be addressed by the incoming governing council.

“Further, Members United point out that the funding behind the Progressive Caucus and the Melissa Donnelly Team, the amount and source of which is not known, has allowed them to direct mail to the whole membership, in many instances multiple times.”

The Members United team failed to get one candidate elected to the CPSU national executive.

Members United estimates they were outspent by the Melissa Donnelly Team by at least 4 to 1.

“Further, we reiterate that choosing to recommend Katy Gallagher’s pay deal after most ballots had already been cast was cowardly.

“If they wanted to recommend that deal, they should have done it before members started casting ballots.

“Many members may have voted for the Melissa Donnelly Team because they genuinely believed they were escalating action and fighting for them, only to be betrayed after having already voted.”

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