For secure jobs and better conditions Unity is Strength The Progressives bring together rank and file trade union activists in the Public Service Association of NSW and the CPSU (SPSF NSW Branch). We work for:
  • greater job security
  • improved and more equitable pay
  • sustainable jobs in a sustainable environment
  • a democratic and strong union
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    What the Progressives have said about good governance, conflicts of interest, PSA Rules changes and secret trade offs

    Good governance framework: lessons for the PSA
    “Public sector good governance frameworks are built upon six underlying principles: accountability, transparency and openness, integrity, stewardship, efficiency, and leadership.”
    Read the law firm Clayton Utz Report, 12 April 2012 "Writing good governance frameworks: A how-to guide"

    Temby presents some lessons on good governance for the PSA and all unions
    The HSU has the same "winner take all" ticket election system as was introduced by the current PSA leadership in 2008. Here's what Temby had to say about that election system in his report on cronyism and corruption in the HSU:
    “10.5 All candidates on such a ticket are beholden to the leader of it: the General Secretary. With his support, they become members of Union Council. That carries with it responsibilities, but also prestige and monetary benefits. Nearly all of those on the Williamson ticket support whatever he wants at Union Council level, and can be relied upon to vote as a block. These people clearly belong to, or travel along with, a faction which has run the Union for the past decade or more. And the leader of that faction is Williamson.”
    “10.16 ....We recommend that rule 17 (d), which allows for a team nomination or ticket, be dispensed with in its entirety.”

    The Progressive PSA maintain that this undemocratic election system should be dispensed with in the PSA and put a motion about doing this to the recent PSA Annual Conference however it was defeated by the same block vote described by Temby in his report.

    Read the HSU East Temby Report, 3 July "Final Report on HSU East by Ian Temby,QC"

    Strategy of the PSA officials Leaves Members Vulnerable
    Since being roundly criticised in previous pay deals for secretly trading off conditions the current PSA executive is desperate to avoid similar criticism this time around. However the O'Farrell government has used the current pay claim to attack members' conditions.
    Read the Progressive PSA report, 22 June 2012, "Strategy of the PSA Officials Leaves Members Vulnerable"

    Read the Decision of the Commission, "Crown Employees (Public Sector - Salaries 2008) Award [2012]"

    Progressives report on PSA Annual Conference
    "The PSA Annual Conference 2012 was held at PSA House in Sydney on 24-25 May. The Conference was attended by about 200 PSA delegates from across the state. As in past years delegates heard talks and attended workshops about a range of industrial issues that affect NSW public servants."
    The Progressive PSA report on Conference“Report of PSA Annual Conference 2012"

    The Progressive PSA leaflet distributed at Conference“We can make the union stronger"

    'Panel to help unions avoid HSU scandal':

    So far top PSA officials salaries remain secret
    “A New panel set up by the ACTU and led by a retired Federal Court judge will help unions avoid serious governance scandals such as those engulfing the Health Services Union.”
    "I am happy to publish what I earn, and what every official of our union earns. Every other union in this country should do the same," said Mr Howes, who is on a salary of $146,000." Paul Howes is AWU National Secretary. ACTU Secretary, Dave Oliver is quoted as saying: "I do not believe there is any place in our movement for $360,000 being paid to any union official". Yet this is about the rumoured, but still secret, salary level of the PSA General Secretary. Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 17 May 2012 "Panel to help unions avoid HSU scandal"

    The Progressive PSA group has been calling for greater levels of transparency and accountability for top union officials over many years.
    Read the Progressive PSA report, 23 April 2012 "Democracy in the PSA"

    The Progressive PSA report on Conference “Report of PSA Annual Conference 2012"

    Read the Progressive PSA 2012 PSA Annual Conference leaflet "We can make the PSA stronger"

    Read the motion that was not allowed to be debated at Annual Conference due to General Business being summarily cancelled "Motion for Annual Conference"

    PSA Women’s Council made undemocratic
    Women’s Council attacked by PSA leadership

  • Women’s Council no longer consists of all PSA women. It is restricted to a faction dominated group of delegates.
  • PSA President Sue Walsh moved a resolution of Women’s Council Committee to extend the term of current Women's Council delegates to 4 years, and to postpone the election due this year by 2 years.
  • Eligibility to attend Women’s Council Annual General Meeting now excludes all PSA women except Women’s Council delegates and Central Council women delegates.
  • Women’s Council could meet as few as 4 times per year instead of nine at present.

    Resolution Carried at Women’s Council Committee, March 2012
    3. That the elections for the member’s of Women’s Council be held every four years and the next Women’s council election be held in 2014. Further, that the term of the current council be extended to 2014.
    MOVED: S Walsh
    WC2012/015
    SECONDED: J Sternbeck
    CARRIED

    Read more detail and what you can do: "PSA Women’s Council made undemocratic."
    Visit the Progressive PSA Blog and have your say - leave a comment: PPSA Blog

    PSA Incumbents returned - just
    Incumbent General Secretary, John Cahill and his team have been returned despite suffering a 30% (2,200 vote) drop in their vote. Cahill managed to get over the line with 53% of the vote while the Progressive's Anne Gardiner fell short with 47%. Despite the significant drop in their vote the Cahill faction will increase their representation on Central Council and the Executive to 100% of the positions. Under the old proportional representation rules the Progressives would have won extra positions on both the Executive and Council. More results here.

    Yes conditions WERE traded away for pay
    The current PSA General Secretary claims delegates spread 'misinformation' about his pay deal and that there are no trade-offs. It doesn't matter whether you call them offsets, efficiency savings, 'modernising conditions', or trade-offs, the fact remains that he agreed that everything above 2.5% will be funded by offsets including:

  • the number of days off in a row without a medical certificate has been reduced from 3 to 2 and 5 per year in total
  • your employer can apply "greater evidence requirements" of your illness including disclosure of the nature of your illness. No backdating of sick certificates etc.
  • reductions in the motor vehicle allowance rates
  • restrictions on taking flex leave if you have more than 8 weeks recreation leave
  • reducing the circumstances under which you can take appeals to GREAT
  • restrictions on who is eligible for transferred officer compensation
  • changes to the accumulation of FACS leave, and more
  • The deal was never put to a vote of members. PSA Rule 25 reads:
    "Any offer received with regard to the salaries payable to or conditions affecting any particular group or class of members shall be referred to those members directly or by reference to a committee authorised to advise on their behalf."

    Want more detail on the pay deal changes to conditions?
    For more details of the changes to conditions and how the pay deal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) works, check:

  • Our Memorandum Summary and explanation, or
  • the full Memorandum of Understanding
  • Public Sector Workforce Office letter to your employer
  • The Premier's Circular announcing the pay agreement.
  • The Premier's Memorandum on Forced Redundancies as accepted by the current PSA General Secretary.

  • Your agency has already submitted its savings wish-list to the Public Sector Workforce Office for approval. A number of agencies have already told their delegates of the cuts and changes to conditions.

    Pay case abandoned as General Secretary accepts employer's wage policy
    The decision to abandon our 6.5% claim came as a disappointment to many members and delegates. We get no more than the state wage case (4%) despite having a compelling case for productivity payments in excess of that amount. Unlike the state wage case, everything above 2.5% is clawed back through offsets and 'efficiency reforms'. That is what the PSA General Secretary John Cahill accepted on your behalf without a vote by members. Your agency will only be funded for 2.5%. They must find the extra via savings via initiatives outlined in the pay deal full Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

    Conflicts of interest need to be avoided
    PSA Annual Conference has called on the current officials to declare and manage their conflicts of interest. They have refused to do so. It is well known that the NSW Government puts union officials on boards of public sector companies allowing them to 'tug the leash' if it is unhappy with a particular union direction. John Cahill has been given a position on Macquarie Generation, Steve Turner has been given Waste Services NSW, and Sue Walsh has been given Lotteries. They pocket the fees, don't provide reports to the governing body of the union, and do not give the fees back to the PSA as is the practice in other unions. They also occupy positions on SGE Credit Union (originally secured through a campaign paid for with PSA money). The officials do not promote loans that are the best value for members - they only promote SGE's loans. You can compare loans with the independent star ratings provided by Cannex.

    Rule changes divide PSA
    The incumbent officials were reluctant to give any profile to their secret rule changes at this year's PSA Conference. In contravention of PSA rules the General Secretary refused to publish all motions-on-notice that were critical of the changes (you can read them here). Similarly Conference papers were not issued to delegates 14 days prior to Conference. The President then broke multiple undertakings to print and bring the motions to Conference. Debate of the motions was delayed till the dying minutes of Conference when almost half the 200 delegates had gone home. The incumbents then moved a gag motion to kill off debate. In the end the motions to rescind the rule changes didn't get up with delegates dividing 44 to 61 (about 100 delegates had left Conference by this stage). As we say, this is no way to build a unified and strong union.
    Read what we said at Conference: Secret rule changes weaken our union
    Read the motions-on-notice from workplaces around the state.
    Also see our original leaflet PSA's secret rule changes

    Divisive rule changes adopted
    February 08 - At the February Central Council, the Rank and File Team/Members First faction voted to adopt a series of controversial rule changes. They hope to strengthen their control of the PSA by removing all other groups from the Governing body of the union.

    The manoeuvre has incensed the real rank and file (members and delegates) who were neither consulted nor informed of the proposed changes. Its just a taste of things to come if this group is re-elected. Another significant change will allow the PSA to fund and endorse political parties and candidates. We believe the changes compromise our independence and reduce our bargaining power. The changes do nothing to unify our members nor do they strengthen our union.

    In this PSA election members and delegates will have to choose between the incumbent officials or a team that will reform and strengthen the union by pursuing an independent, member-based industrial strategy.

  • Table of changes including the motion on notice
  • Current PSA rules
  • PSA's secret rule changes
    In a divisive move the current PSA leadership faction placed a motion on notice to change the PSA's electoral rules in a way they hope will advantage themselves by banishing all opposition from the governing body of the union. The motion was tabled just prior to the Christmas holidays ensuring members would not be aware of the changes prior to the vote at the February Central Council. The proponents of the changes refused to answer questions about their motion. Why the secrecy and what are the changes? There are 8 rule changes. The two most significant ones are:

  • replacing proportional representation election of Central Councillors with a 'winner takes all' method
  • allowing the union to endorse and fund political parties and candidates

  • These changes are are not in the interest of members. That is why they were snuck through without consultation.

    What the Progressives believe these changes will do

    1. Allow the PSA to openly support political parties and candidates

    The change to PSA rules 3 & 4 are designed to allow our union to openly support a political party. In practice this would be a party of the General Secretary’s choice. This is currently against the Rules or ‘constitution’ of the PSA. The PSA leadership will be able to use member’s money to financially support parliamentary candidates at election time, also against the current Rules. This opens the way to party affiliation with no direct input by members.

    Many PSA members believe there is a conflict of interest for the leadership of a public sector union to be able to closely align itself to the party of government. The union should not be so close to our bosses.

    2. Eliminate a representative Central Council
    Another change alters the method of the union's general election, due this October/November, including the system used to elect the governing body of the PSA, Central Council.

    The adopted alteration to Rule 35(a) – changes the voting system from proportional representation as detailed in Schedule D of the PSA rules to a simple preferential voting system as outlined in Schedule C. This is the most far-reaching and dangerous of the proposed rule changes. Its design and effect is to eliminate any and all opposition from individuals or groups who do not agree with the existing leadership of “Rank & File and “Member’s First” factions.

    Currently, a ticket that receives say 30% of the vote gets 30 % representation on Central Council. That in essence explains the system of proportional representation. It is easily the most democratic and genuinely representative of the three main electoral systems. By switching the electoral system from proportional representation to simple preferential voting, the ticket that receives a bare majority of the votes, (50% plus 1), after preferences are distributed gets their candidates elected to ALL positions on Central Council.

    PSA Central Council, like the Senate, is a multi-seat electorate. It is one single electorate composed of 45 positions, covering the entire PSA membership across the state of NSW. In any multi-seat electorate proportional representation is the only fair way to accurately reflect the desires of the constituency, that’s why it is the system used in the upper house of every parliament in our country.

    3. Restrict information to members
    A change to Rule 93 seeks to remove a candidate information sheet and a list of all tickets registered for the election and where their preferences are distributed. This information is currently sent to members by the State Electoral Office. The proposed change would mean that PSA members would instead have to go to the PSA’s website to read it.

    This website and its contents are controlled and authorised by the General Secretary – one of the positions up for election. The proposed rules changes were hidden on the PSA web site, unannounced, under “Decisions”. Many members are asking ‘Would this essential information also be treated the same way?’

    In fact, the only people likely to be known on a widespread basis are the people that appear in Red Tape. Every word that appears in Red Tape is vetted by the General Secretary who also controls the membership email list. This means that there is no opportunity for a group such as The Progressives or other independents to get exposure in Red Tape or via email.

    What you can do
    1. Join the PSA Betterdeal email list to be kept up to date psabetterdeal-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

    2. Inform yourself - Read the rest of this page for information about the impact of the changes. To make sense of the motion on notice download this handy table of how the rules look now and how they would look if changed. You can download a copy of the Association's current rules here.

    3. Contact :PSA Executive members and ask why they are sneaking these rule changes through.

    4. Attend the Central Council meeting as an observer - the meeting begins at 4:00PM on 11 February in PSA House, 160 Clarence Street, Sydney.

    5. Help build up opposition to these dangerous proposals. Print, sign and fax this petition and discuss it with other interested members.

    6. Help distribute this PPSA leaflet and discuss it with other interested members. If you want to raise this issue at your workplace

    Who wants to change the PSA's rules?
    The motion on notice is being moved by members of the Cahill/Turner faction known as the "Rank and File Team" and their allied faction Shane O’Brien's "Members First". Don't be fooled by the factional names - neither 'rank and file' delegates nor 'members' are being consulted. In fact the movers of the motion refused to answer any questions at the meeting where it was tabled. Not one of these top three paid officials has ever been a NSW public servant. The full list of movers is here. Some of these people now say they don't support the changes and only signed the motion because they were told the changes were just a 'tidy up of the rules'. However, the real test is how they vote.

    Points (1) and (2) – changes to rules 3 & 4 of existing rules – are designed to allow our union to openly support the Australian Labor Party (ALP). It will allow the PSA leadership to use member’s money to financially support candidates at election time, tout for electoral support for favoured candidates amongst the membership, promote the interests of the ALP and potentially then affiliate with the ALP.

    There is a conflict of interest for the leadership of a public sector union to be so close politically to the party of government. The government is our employer; ministers are ultimately our bosses. The union should not be so close to our bosses.

    Most public sector unions are not affiliated to the ALP and all maintain a healthy distance from it, as should the PSA.

    Restrict information to members

    Points (3), (4), (5), (6) and (8) seek to change aspects of the union’s 4 yearly election, (due this year) including the system used to elect the Central Council and the manner in which the election is conducted.

    Point (5) – change to Rule 93 – seeks to remove from the balloting material mailed to each financial member a candidate information sheet and a list of all tickets registered for the election. This information under the existing rules is currently approved and prepared by the Electoral Office. The proposed change would mean that PSA members would no longer receive this information with the balloting information and instead would have to go to the PSA’s website to read it. This website and its contents is controlled and authorised by the General Secretary.

    The candidate information sheet provides details about each candidate in the election as supplied by them. This is crucial information for voters to be able to make an informed choice in an election where most of the candidates would be unknown to most voters. In fact, the only people likely to be known on a widespread basis are the people that appear in Red Tape. Every word that appears in Red Tape is vetted by John Cahill. The General Secretary also controls the membership emails list. This means that there is no opportunity for a group such as The Progressives to get exposure in Red Tape or via email. Eliminate a representative Central Council Point (3) – change to Rule 35(a) – would change the voting system from proportional representation as detailed in Schedule D of the PSA rules to a simple preferential voting system as outlined in Schedule C. This is the most far-reaching and reactionary of the proposed rule changes. Its design and effect is to eliminate any and all opposition from individuals or groups who do not agree with the existing Labor Party dominated leadership.

    Currently, a ticket that receives say 30% of the vote gets 30 % representation on CC. That in essence explains the system of proportional representation. It is easily the most democratic and genuinely representative of the three main electoral systems, (the other two being simple preferential and first past the post). By switching the electoral system from proportional representation (Schedule D in the PSA rules) to simple preferential voting (Schedule C), the ticket that receives a bare majority of the votes, (50% plus 1), after preferences are distributed gets all 45 of their candidates elected to CC.

    The obvious point here is that it is undemocratic and not a true representation of the intentions of the voting membership.

    A ticket that receives 30% or 40% of the vote gets no representation. This is clearly unfair and unjust.

    PSA Central Council, like the Senate, is a multi-seat electorate. It is one single electorate composed of 45 positions, (plus the seven member executive), covering the entire PSA membership across the state of NSW. In any multi-seat electorate proportional representation is the only fair way to accurately reflect the desires of the constituency, that’s why it is the system used in the upper house of every parliament in our country.

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    Contact us at: ppsa@progressivepsa.org