Saturday, 14 August 2010

Hidden away on page 17

of our state newspaper this morning was a story about the way in which the Commonwealth Public Service Union was 'bullying' members into voting Labor. I suspect that, even given the delight journalists take in exaggerating issues, there is more than a grain of truth in this story.
The CPSU is not apolitical. It would be unusual to find a union which is not aligned with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the ACTU is heavily involved with the Australian Labor Party. That suits the ALP as the ACTU provides much of the ALP funding. (They can easily afford this because some of their own activities, such as their AEC run elections, are funded by the taxpayer. That is not going to change. The ALP does very nicely out of it and the unions only have to threaten strike action if the support is removed.)
There is however a problem when it comes to the CPSU because the public service is supposed to be apolitical. It is supposed to offer unbiased advice. It is unlikely that anyone really believes this. Some may even think it does not really matter very much.
I know any number of public servants and they have a range of political views. Those who do not vote Labor tend to keep their views to themselves, especially in the work place. One highly competent and very able young person has just been passed over for promotion again. This time she was verbally informed it was because she was not a member of the CPSU and, it was implied, her loyalty was suspect. How often such things occur I do not know but they should not occur at all. She is now looking for work outside the APS. They will almost certainly lose her but she will be the exception, not the rule. That matters. We are in increasing danger of an homogenised public service that does not offer a diversity of advice and experience to the government of the day. Political correctness and bias will rule because people will be too afraid of losing their jobs.
I am surprised that the article was hidden on page 17 - or perhaps that it appeared at all. Nothing is likely to change.


Anonymous said...

Come on Cat - the CPSU is not political. It only recognises one political party. How can that be political?
The union rep was in the office yesterday telling everyone how important it was to vote 'correctly and you all know what that means'. She was looking for people to hand out 'how to vote' cards too. That;s how apolitical they are.

Frances said...

Hello Cat:
I wonder if your highly competent young friend had contacts in high quarters, because nepotism rules. Not unions: nepotism, or "networks", as they like to say.

As for unions: of course they are pro the ALP, because it's supposed to be the party that supports employees.

And , of course, addressing a workforce, they would assume that the workers might vote to support the work force. As Dave said they did.
As for your suggestion that the public service, irrespective of the diversity of its input, might not offer unbiased advice, I can only state that you are maligning hundreds, if not thousands of people.
And, add two words about bias: Godwin Grech.

My parents were school teachers. My father would be 119 if he were alive today. The union lifted them from poverty wages, and gave them some human dignity. I applaud the unions.
I operate a small business. I see a different point of view, also.

Both sides use dirty tricks. It is ingenuous to suggest that one side has the moral high ground.

catdownunder said...

I don't think I can agree Frances. Godwin Grech was suffering mental illness - and had (if my sources are correct) been harrassed by his co-workers for some years. I think he might have been trying to get back at them rather than anything else.
As for the vast majority of public servants? I am not maligning them in the least. They apply policy. The policy is delivered by those a little further up the line and, like Sir Humphrey Appleby, they do pretty much as they want.

Anonymous said...

Hello Frances
I work for the APS and have done for many years and I have to say Cat's analysis is correct - and what Dave has to say is all too true.
Naturally there is an assumption that you will vote Labor because you belong to the union but remember that union membership, while no longer compulsory, is still a requirement for access to the inner-circle and that means promotion. If you doubt this then you have never, as I have, been on a selection panel. I am well aware that, in some instances, union membership is checked on and those without it have no chance of selection. It's a fact of life. The APS is riddled with Labor bias and is always likely to be. It always astounds me how well Coalition governments can do in the face of sometimes very hostile key people.
It is not likely to be a problem for the foreseeable future however as Labor is certain to hold on to power next weekend.
Regards Chris (in charge of 112 staff)

Frances said...

I stand corrected. I accept the coal-face evidence of people actually involved.
I had based my opinion on the only 2 heads of department that I have known...(is that the name for those who interact with the parliamentary minister?)
I would be very surprised if either of these were partisan: they were wily pragmatists. Vicars of Bray, as it were.

Cat: I certainly see Godwin Grech as a tragic figure.