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Delegate Steve Arditto: “one thing”

Worksite: StaffLink, Tasmanian Health Organisation South

One thing Steve’s learnt in his Delegate role:

“One thing I’ve learnt is that it’s not enough to be a union member these days, you have to be an activist.”

Currently his Delegate role involves:

“As a Delegate I’m spending a lot of time talking to Members in my work area and they’re approaching me because they’re very concerned about the budget cuts as well as the re-organisation into one Tasmanian Health Service – they’re fearful for their jobs. There’s little or no information coming out from our management. People are scared and concerned.”

“Essential services are under attack from the State and Federal Governments. We’re being painted as a drain on the budget and there’s no real discussion about the services that we deliver to the public. Also, what happens to these services and the public when they’re not funded, jobs are cut and functions are stretched? That’s everything from Child Protection to Prisons and consumer safety.

“You’ve got a number of the big media outlets recommending this message and they’re pretty much on a privatisation drive; basically stop doing the services that can’t make money, like social welfare, health and education, and sell off the profitable services which means you’ve got even less revenue coming in to support those essential services.
To counter that message, it’s not just enough to be a union member, you need to go to union rallies, you need to write letters to the editor and local politicians. You might think as one person you can’t make a difference but, just like rallies, if there are a lot of people there then those views are noticed.

“Recently we saw the backflip on the Medicare Co-payment, it was the pressure from unions, medical associations and public service groups that have helped achieve this. So that’s a great example of being an activist.”

Another is social media. Steve is great at posting articles and news that helps refute the attack on public services. “The CPSU has got a very good website, and I certainly pass on the information. It’s a way of educating your family and friends. You know, you don’t want to harp on at the family barbecue too much. If you help share the alternate view, then people have a chance to think outside the immediate budget deficit and what happens if you strip all this money out of public services.  Not just for ourselves but for our kids or those who aren’t as well off.

“It’s promoting the message that public services are essential and this is what your taxes are collected for, it’s not to support mining companies, it’s not to support tax benefits to the wealthy. It’s about making sure that the neediest can access services to survive.”

Currently in his workplace:

“As a Delegate I’ve been participating in our joint executive union consultative council to put these concerns to the executive, along with HACSU and the ANMF, and to explain the cuts and the effect on services. One area that we’re looking at right now is redundancy payments, where there’s been no identified model of service delivery. So we’re concerned that they’re paying money to people to go now, and we’ll being paying more for them to come back in 12-18 months.

“In my own personal workspace as an Employment Services Officer for the Health Service, we’ve had staff cuts. A lot of time is taken up trying to get vacancies cleared from central government. It’s not that we’re necessarily recruiting more people than before; it just takes so much longer to get somebody on board.

“I’m sure my role will ramp up when we get more information about where these cuts are going to occur and the changes with the one health service.”

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