30 November 2023

Breakaway group calls for CPSU caretaker conventions to kick in

| Chris Johnson
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The CPSU is fighting itself over the approach to APS wage negotiations. Photo: CPSU.

As the Community and Public Sector Union prepares to start counting votes over the government’s latest APS wages offer, breakaway group Members United insists no decision should be made until the union’s own election has concluded.

The MU team has called for a caretaker period for CPSU governance, with no major decisions taken until the union’s membership has decided who should lead them.

The current CPSU leadership has backed the Australian Public Service Commission’s offer of an 11.2 per cent wage increase over three years plus a one-off 0.92 per cent bonus payment for signing up to the deal.

The union hierarchy had previously rejected the 11.2 per cent offer but is now firmly behind it with the added sweetener.

A ballot of the union’s APS members closes midday today (30 November) to determine if the deal will be accepted.

But the CPSU is also in the last days of an election for its own national executive positions. That ballot closes on 6 December.

Members United has called on the incumbent CPSU leadership, which is led by national secretary Melissa Donnelly, to delay any decisions on the latest federal public service pay offer until the results of the internal CPSU elections are in and known.

The grassroots MU group is running candidates for the CPSU’s national executive, including Ms Donnelly’s job.

MU candidates have been highly critical of the CPSU’s close affiliation with the Australian Labor Party and Ms Donnelly’s membership of the ALP national executive.

They say it has weakened the union’s industrial strategy because it is too close to the Federal Government.

MU says Ms Donnelly’s sudden support for a wages deal that has barely changed from the one she and her team had previously rejected strongly suggests the union has caved in to government demands.

MU also notes that the current CPSU leadership has gone silent on strike action still proceeding against the government.

MU candidate for CPSU deputy national president candidate Adam Mayers said the union’s current leadership is betraying the industrial strategy of its membership.

“Melissa Donnelly and her CPSU leadership team consistently rely on makeshift member polls to vaguely inform their industrial strategy, and they are doing the same with this inadequate APS pay offer,” he said.

“Concurrently, there is a genuine, binding vote of the membership, in the form of an election, facilitated by the Australian Electoral Commission.

“This is the real plebiscite on the success of the leadership’s strategy.

“In any government going through an election period, there would be a caretaker period where no major decisions are made.

“The CPSU leadership are eager to manufacture consent for Katy Gallagher’s deal before a single vote in the CPSU elections has been counted.

“The leadership are trying to suspend industrial action and take the pressure off the government while they do Katy Gallagher’s public relations work for her. Simply put, trade unions don’t do this.

“Could you imagine any other union, including the affiliated ones, calling off strike action and going around talking up the employer’s bad deal before they’ve genuinely heard from their membership?”

For their part, the current CPSU leadership insists it had successfully pressured the government to improve the pay offer and that the “outcomes on offer are the best that can be achieved” without widespread and protracted industrial action right across the APS.

“The CPSU has been able to negotiate an improved pay deal for APS employees, without losing any negotiated conditions or delaying pay rises,” Ms Donnelly has stated.

“We had a narrow window to fight for a better pay deal where we would not be delaying bargaining outcomes, and we made the most of it.

“CPSU members trusted us to reject this offer and since then have voted up protected action ballots, gone on strike and stood in solidarity with their colleagues taking industrial action across the APS.

“Together, CPSU members demanded more from the Albanese Government and together they have secured more. This is a package that will deliver APS employees strong, industry-leading conditions, improved pay and a financial boost without delay.

“The union recommends the overall package, noting it will deliver strong conditions and improved pay without delays.”

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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