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Delegates often on the job before it becomes official
A COMMON theme emerged after talking to four recently endorsed Delegates at the latest ACTU training. These CPSU Members were all unofficially in the role for a long time before becoming a workplace Delegate.
They were all leaders in their workplaces, in that their colleagues would come to them for help and advice. At the CPSU we often hear about Members doing the job of Delegate without the title.
Becoming a Delegate means you have access to both rights and protections that come with the role.
Rights include: being able to represent members on issues, and being a representative on committees, such as consultative committees; access to training and development in paid time, the ability to hold member meetings; and much more.
Protections include: being able to undertake the role without discrimination and having formal recognition of being an endorsed Delegate.
If you’re thinking “I’m an unofficial Delegate”, then why not talk to your CPSU Organiser about what the role involves so you too are protected!
We caught up with four Members who’d recently taken on the role at Hobart Delegate training on September 4-5. We found out a little about them, their workplace and their thoughts on the Delegate role so far.
Tasmanian Prison Service Delegate Lynn Larkins
Lynn Larkins is a Structured Day Coordinator at the Tasmanian Prison Service.
“Effectively what we do is prioritise an inmate’s day, from criminogenic programs, education, work, professional visits. Court, external medicals and parole override anything else.” So if any of these priorities come up, it’s up to Lynn to rearrange the inmate’s calendar and notify the relevant people.
“An inmate’s day is very structured. They have to get up at a certain time, if they’re working they need to go and do that, if they have a visit, they need to be in the right place, and it’s the same with if they have education or other appointments.”
Lynn’s worked at the prison since May 2006 and is a recent Delegate. However, Lynn’s been the unofficial Delegate in her workplace for a long time.
“I signed up because of the inequity I was seeing in the workplace. A lot of people were coming to me asking what they should do in this or that situation and I helped them the best I could. Also, I was bullied pretty badly years ago and my daughter and son were also bullied at work, and I’d really like to help people. I thought if I was going to help people I really needed to have the union behind me, backing me and giving me a better understanding of issues.
“When I became a Delegate I didn’t know my rights or the union’s expectations. A lot of the training so far has actually confirmed that I’m doing okay as a Delegate and I’m on the right track.”
DHHS Delegates at the Royal Hobart Hospital, Leah Meaney and Belinda McEwan
Leah works in Pathology in the Core Laboratory as a permanent night shift worker. She’s been a Delegate for about 2-3 months but for most of that time she’s been on annual leave.
“In Pathology there are two other Delegates besides Belinda and me, which is good because sometimes Members might want to talk to someone about an issue who’s not directly involved in their work. So having a few Delegates might be handy for people. I come in and people on day shift sometimes unload onto me, especially if it’s been a particularly bad shift, so I do tend to have people coming to me about issues that are happening”.
As a new Delegate, Leah’s found the training helpful. “It’s been useful to learn what we should be doing as Delegates and also what we’re allowed to do.
“There’s a bullying and harassment review in our workplace and I want to make sure I can give people the correct information about what’s happening with that. We’ve been sort of doing the role for a while even though I wasn’t a Delegate. I think that’s why Nick scouted the two of us out to be Delegates.”
Belinda also works in Pathology but in Microbiology, which is found at the other end of the hospital to where Leah’s based. It’s been a month since Belinda took on the Delegate role.
“I’ve found the role interesting so far. There are some payroll issues with shift workers in my area, which my workmates were coming to me about it before I signed up as an official Delegate anyway!”
Although being a Delegate does involve a bit of extra work Belinda said she feels like she’s really helping and doing something. “I can contact my Organiser Nick or Celeste in the Advice and Support team and ask them what’s going on with this or that. Everyone in the union office is really helpful – it’s good to know you have that support to call on.”
“It’d be great to have more Delegates but currently it’s also good that our Delegates are based in different areas. Micro is totally different to the Core Lab and the conditions are totally different, so something I’m helping with might apply to my crew and not to Leah’s area.”
DHHS Delegate Andrew Morris
Andrew works in IT in the Department of Health and Human Services, where he looks after the server infrastructure. “We’ve got about 800 odd servers, with about 10-11 full time workers looking after them.” The job involves a bit of on-call work.”
“I’ve worked there for about 18 years. I originally started in what was the help desk/desktop support. The public service has changed a lot during that time; we’ve experience both the good and bad times.”
Based at 99 Bathurst St in Hobart, on Andrew’s floor you’ll find his IT colleagues working in a range of areas from servers, communications, desktop support and application administration. “We’ve got people based in Launceston and Burnie as well.”
“I’ve only been a Delegate for a matter of weeks. My Organiser Nick (Duncombe) had popped his head around a few times and I raised some issues with him. Together we followed these issues through to a conclusion, which was fantastic. I ended up becoming a Delegate, which puts an official tag on what I was already doing. It’s all a learning experience at the moment and this Delegate training is great timing.”
“It’s been interesting to hear from other Delegates in the training group, it’s a mix of different workplaces but there are still a lot of the same issues going around.”
Welcome to all recent Delegates – you are truly valued. Your CPSU is always here is you ever have a question, are unsure or need support.