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  Issue No 51 Official Organ of LaborNet 28 April 2000  




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Government to Outsource Staff Relations

Not content with outsourcing most of its service delivery functions, the Howard Government is now looking to outsource having to talk to its own workers.

According to cabinet-in-confidence correspondence from Department of Finance and Admininstration to a Commonwealth Government Agency, dated 28 January 2000, reference is made to cabinet requirements to implement Competitive Tendering and Contracting programmes.

As the controversial and expensive IT outsourcing program has been implemented in many Commonwelath agencies there is now a trend emerging for agencies to 'market test' or contract out Corporate Services Functions.

The Corporate Services functions in scope include payroll, OH&S, accounting, finance, property management, records management, fleet control, and in some cases workplace relations functions.

The most recent example of outsourcing is in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestries Australia (AFFA) who are negotiating a contract with Price Waterhouse Coopers to undertake Human Resource functions including payroll, property management and Workplace Relations activities. Staff in AFFA were not given an opportunity to put their case forward and have not been told why they were not competitive.

It is possible that the CPSU will be meeting with Price Waterhouse Coopers to negotiate the next Certified Agreement in AFFA. This situation will be difficult as a contractor will not have the same level of knowledge or commitment to the Department or its staff than Departmental Officer. This is also contrary to Peter Reith's statements about the involvement of third parties.

Many other agencies have commenced reviews of their Corporate Services areas to prepare for market testing. These agencies include but are not limited to Attorney Generals, Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Centrelink, Bureau of Meterology, Environment and Heritage and Education Training and Youth Affairs.

CPSU professional division secretary Matthew Reynolds says the there are a number of concerns about the approach:

Job Loss. At risk is well over 2000 jobs being taken out of the Public Sector. Less jobs will be created in the private sector and these jobs will be precarious. It is feasible that some of these jobs will not only move from their current location but be exported.

Privacy. The private sector is only subject to weak, self regulated privacy provisions, but will have detailed information on the locations, salaries and conditions for a range of public public servants, many in very sensitive or strategic positions.

Corporate Memory. The Australian National Audit Office in their reports and to a Senate inquiry have raised the problem of maintaining corporate memory.

Public Scrutiny. There are many instances of Government hiding behind 'commercial in confidence', and the ANAO have raised concerns that contracts have not allowed them to scrutinise the contract or performance. Public moneys should be spent transparently and be open to public and parliamentary scrutiny.

"The CPSU is also being told that the market testing of these types of functions is unpopular with many senior managers but that they are being driven by DOFA," Reynolds says.

" For example, the CPSU is aware that Centrelink have many organisational issues impacting on them at present and are approaching DOFA in an attempt to delay the market testing of their Corporate Services functions. This also leads to other issues with losing control of how money is spent, and of the work that is performed.

"The work of Public Sector Agencies should be done by Public Sector Agencies."


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*   Issue 51 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Wrestling With Reith
CPSU national secretary Wendy Caird has faced the full force of Peter Reith's attack on the federal public sector. The good news is she's still fighting.
*  Unions: The Organiser
As the nature of working life changes fundamentally, union organisers like Sally are taking up the challenge and changing too.
*  Safety: Remembering the Fallen
NSW Industrial Relations Minister Jeff Shaw's keynote address to mark the International Day of Mourning for Deaths in the Workplace.
*  History: May Day Connections
May Day as a modern working class celebration and commemoration began from the 1886 events in Chicago where workers were demonstrating for an eight hour day. But the day already had special significance for working people before then.
*  Women: Swelling the Ranks
Jenny Wright wears the honour of being the nation's first pregnant wharfie modestly. But it's not all clear sailing for this trailblazer.
*  International: Dawn Raid to Arrest Korean Union Leaders
Riot police have broken into the office of the Daewoo Motors Workers Union in Pupyung, near Seoul, and taken union leaders into custody for the "crime" of leading a militant struggle to save the jobs of Korean auto workers.
*  Satire: Angry Star City Staff Strike it Unlucky
Gamblers panicked when they discovered they were locked out of the Casino when 1800 workers walked out.
*  Review: The World of Wobbly Window Cleaners
A new book 'Reshaping the Labour Market' shines the spotlight on the impact of labour market deregulation.

»  Government to Outsource Staff Relations
»  Dial-A-Contract Hits Call Centres
»  Reith Loses Plot Over 'Bad Bargaining' Bible
»  Prayer for the Fallen Marks International Day
»  Entitlement Time-Bomb Still Ticking
»  No Joy for Southern Picket
»  Union Fighter Shapes Up For Casino Workers
»  Stopped Clock Starts Ticking at Sydney Water
»  Telstra Tangle Over 'Honest Rob'
»  A Week of May Days
»  Big Drum Up for East Timor!
»  Pick a Pollie - the Truth Revealed

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  SOCOG Makes Another Meal Of It
»  Seeking Unionists With Blues
»  Is Red Ken So Clean?

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