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Rudd Labor to sack 35000 public servants?

By Passy - 24 January 2009 85

This article first appeared on my blog En Passant with John Passant (http://enpassant.com.au)

The Rudd Labor Government’s next budget in May will take a meat axe to vital public services and public servants.

As Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said recently: “We have got further efficiency work (sic) under way – the second phase of the razor gang.” (Danielle Cronin and David McLennan ‘PS pain not over as China hits the wall’ The Canberra Times Friday January 23 2009 page 1.)

He went on to say: “It’s all about squeezing more out of the lemon, cutting out waste, getting greater efficiency, but time will tell how successful we are.”

Ominously, Tanner said that the number of public service positions had grown from 212,000 to 247,000 under John Howard in his final years in office.

Remember 1996 when Howard and Costello sacked 25,000 public servants and axed a large number of programs?

Tanner is softening us up for the HowRudd Government’s version of 1996. Given the benchmark Tanner is using – 212,000 compared to 247,000, could this rotten Labor Government be tempted to go further than Howard and Costello and sack 35,000 public services and axe vital programs across the board?

The CPSU – the public servants’ union – has condemned the comments, saying you can’t get blood out of a stone. The CPSU accepted the 1996 attacks. It should take a stand now. Instead of being an acolyte of Labor, it should defend its members.

If you are a public servant, and not a union member, now would be a good time to join.  But don’t imagine that somehow the “union” will save you without you doing anything. The union leadership is essentially a conservatising force, afraid of industrial action and wedded to the ALP and the fear of upsetting it.  So if you do join, join prepared to argue and agitate for mass meetings, demonstrations, bans and strikes to defend public services, jobs, wages and conditions. Join and fight!

These meetings, bans and strikes should be on the union agenda now to force the Government to back down before their attacks become a debilitating and confidence destroying fait accompli. The added bonus is that such action would help rebuild the union, tainted from years of collaboration with the employer and class enemy – Hawke, Keating, Howard and Rudd.

This looks unlikely from the CPSU leadership. Instead the Union is affiliating with ALP branches around the country. In Canberra these moves are just beginning. The talk is of influencing the ALP from the inside. The union may as well join the Liberals for all the good it will do.

This entryism is doomed to failure because managing capitalism for the bosses demands attack on workers. That’s the essence of the ALP in times of economic crisis, and no amount of “influence” is going to change that. In fact the end result is more likely to be the host ALP taking over the parasite CPSU.

This affiliation nonsense is the consequence of the CPSU limply rolling over to governments for 25 years. The alternatives are affiliation or action to defend jobs. I’m in favour of action instead of passing do nothing resolutions through the ALP and getting do nothing officials on to the backbenches.

Strike to defend vital public programs, jobs, wages and conditions.

What’s Your opinion?


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85 Responses to
Rudd Labor to sack 35000 public servants?
ramblingted 4:29 pm 24 Jan 09

to deadmandrinking…I don’t believe that just because I worked in the public sector that I was owed a living for life…if the government thought my job wasn’t needed then so be it, I’d have to get off my shiny arse and try go get another one, just like what happens in the private sector..

R. Slicker 4:18 pm 24 Jan 09

The problems all began when Howard brought in “performance bonuses” for bureaucrats who performed – ie: sucked up to Howard and his ministers. As someone said at the time: “they should stop talking about performance bonuses for bureaucrats who perform and start taking about THE SACK for those who don’t”.

Thumper 4:00 pm 24 Jan 09

Sack 35K PS and then have to pay them redundancies plus benefits and maybe even retraining?

Now that will kick start the economy…

Deadmandrinking 3:57 pm 24 Jan 09

Yes, because Climate Change isn’t happening. It’s all a conspiracy by green aliens.

barking toad 3:43 pm 24 Jan 09

Here’s an instant saving – scap the department of Climate Change (or whatever trendy name it has). It’s function is redundant.

miz 3:02 pm 24 Jan 09

And ‘recruit is all back’ at more cost! ie, losing massive corporate knowledge, so things become even less efficient while people try and work out how things have to be done, and then re-hiring through consultancies (often the retrenched, whose priorities are no longer getting the job done, but covering their own bums so they get more contracts) at twice the price. Daft.

Granny 2:52 pm 24 Jan 09

The trouble is they always get it wrong. The fat stays and the muscle goes. Then they have to recruit it all back again.

zig 2:09 pm 24 Jan 09

It’s about time someone took an axe to the public service and cleared out the fat.

Some public servants are way overworked yet there are plenty of public servants who sit and play solitaire all day. About time they put some fairness and balance back.

Passy 1:49 pm 24 Jan 09

On my blog (http://enpassant.com.au) I muse about soem alternatives to directly sacking 35,000.

I say:

Given the benchmark Tanner is using – 212,000 compared to 247,000, could this rotten Labor Government be tempted to go further than Howard and Costello and sack 35,000 public services and axe vital programs across the board?

Maybe not directly, but I am sure this Labor Government will attack its own employees, and in doing so pander to popularism. Rudd could increase the efficiency dividend, or keep the present elevated 3.25%. (That 3.25% for example saw the ATO look to offload 1137 staff through natural attrition.)

It could freeze public servants’ pay (in line with what it did last year to politicians and proposes again for them this year.) It could decide not to increase funding to public service agencies. So rather than a complete decapitation, Rudd Labor will in all likelihood adopt a strategy of death by a thousand cuts. Same outcome, just a bit longer to do. A longer, slower, crueler death might appeal to the sadists in the HowRuddista government but either option if adopted still means the public service is dead. Unless there is a fightback.

G-Fresh 12:58 pm 24 Jan 09

Pandy said :

Ha! Ha! Suck poo CPSU!!

PML couldn’t be truer

Pandy 12:51 pm 24 Jan 09

What ever happened to the Howard Governments stratergy of balancing work and life?

Oh that’s right: Rudd took over.

Ha! Ha! Suck poo CPSU!!

trevar 12:30 pm 24 Jan 09

Primal said :

Strike to defend vital public programs, jobs, wages and conditions.

WHAT!!! There are vital public programs now? Oh, right: Passy is talking about the Public Holiday Commission…

Deadmandrinking 12:27 pm 24 Jan 09

ramblingted said :

Ah, the employer as class enemy…that takes me back…Bruce Kent, Daphne Gollan and Modern Revs courses at ANU….good on you JP, you are the only Marxist (left) in the village!!

So…hypothetically, if you were going to lose your job, you’d just sit there and do nothing about it?

Primal 12:20 pm 24 Jan 09

So in summary: one vague comment = OMG We’re All Going To Die!!!!111!!1!!!1

ramblingted 12:08 pm 24 Jan 09

Ah, the employer as class enemy…that takes me back…Bruce Kent, Daphne Gollan and Modern Revs courses at ANU….good on you JP, you are the only Marxist (left) in the village!!

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