Fwd (GLW): Members First result shows desire for an alternative

Alan Bradley alanb at SPAMelf.brisnet.org.au
Sun Jun 4 19:54:10 MDT 2000


>From the latest Green Left Weekly:

Members First result shows desire for an alternative
BY MELANIE SJOBERG

“The results in the Community and Public Sector Union national election
show that a large number of members oppose the policies of the leadership
and are willing to back a team of progressive activists”, Jim McIlroy,
Members First candidate for CPSU assistant national secretary, told Green
Left Weekly.

Members First fielded a full ticket for national office bearer positions
and won around a third of the vote, despite its low-budget, campaign.
McIlroy, a Brisbane Centrelink delegate and member of the Democratic
Socialist Party (DSP), received 34.6% in his contest with long-standing
national assistant secretary Doug Lilly.

Members First candidate for national secretary, ACT assistant branch
secretary Susan Carcary, won 25% of the vote against high-profile incumbent
Wendy Caird. Melbourne Centrelink delegate and International Socialist
Organisation member Marcus Banks received 32.7% for national president.

In a press statement released on May 29, Caird gloated that her 75%
majority was the highest in the union's history and a vindication of the
CPSU leadership's policies. She neglected to mention that less than 16,500
members voted. This is a shockingly low turn-out; some 62,000 members
(presumably the number of financial members in the federal public sector)
were issued ballot papers.

Immediately before the election, the CPSU leadership sent to all members a
glossy leaflet with a photo of Caird on the cover which purported to
promote the union's new organisational structure. Carcary told Green Left
Weekly that this was thinly disguised electioneering and a blatant misuse
of union funds. It demonstrated the electoral advantages that officials
enjoy.

McIlroy agreed: “Given the relative resources available to the two
campaigns, Members First's result shows strong support for a change of
direction for the CPSU.”

“The public sector has been under massive attack from the federal Coalition
government for nearly five years. There is rampant privatisation and more
than 100,000 jobs have been lost. Yet, the CPSU leadership under Caird has
led constant retreats and failed to organise a united defence campaign”,
McIlroy told Green Left Weekly.

“The Commonwealth Employment Service was destroyed with hardly a whimper,
now Telstra workers are facing full privatisation and huge job cuts and
still our union does almost nothing to organise a campaign against the
attacks. The CPSU has accepted the federal government's demand for separate
agency agreements. It has allowed solidarity within the union to wither on
the vine.

“It is little wonder that CPSU membership is plummeting. We urgently need
to turn this around. But, rather than learn from the election result, the
officials are gloating about having a `mandate'”, McIlroy said.

Fear of debate and differing views within the union have been a
long-standing trait of the national leadership. During the election
campaign in October, Mathew Reynolds, who has just been elected national
president, circulated an email which tried to whip up fears about Members
First by charging that it has socialist allegiances, especially through the
involvement of the DSP.

In Western Australia, the CPSU mailed a letter to all union members on May
15 claiming that the Members First candidate for deputy president, Sarah
Harris, was not reliable because of her membership of the DSP.

“Socialist and progressive activists in the CPSU are involved with Members
First. It includes members of the DSP, the International Socialists and
other union militants who are fed up with the pro-Labor Party Caird group's
constant retreats. We made no secret of our political affiliations and
campaigned for a vigorous turnaround in the direction of the union”,
McIlroy said.

McIlroy told Green Left Weekly that Members First's best results were where
its organisation was strongest. “This included Queensland, the ACT and
Victoria.

“In Queensland, Members First mailed out its main campaign leaflet to about
90% of the members. In Brisbane, Members First led a campaign to defend
Telstra workers against job cuts and privatisation. Members First initiated
two rallies outside Telstra buildings in the city. Another rally, with
state CPSU endorsement, is planned for June 8.”

Melbourne also managed a major mail-out and campaigned on delegates'
democratic rights after Banks was victimised for supporting other
unionists, McIlroy added.

McIlroy told Green Left Weekly that the CPSU is “at a turning point right
now. If the Caird leadership continues to delude itself that the members
are behind them and that its policies have put the union in a strong
position, CPSU members are going to face even greater problems as the
federal government escalates its offensive against the public sector
workers.”

[For details on the June 8 Telstra rally in Brisbane, phone (07) 3831
2644.]






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