CPSU Members in Libraries Need Secure Jobs

Despite hopes for a job they and their loved ones can count on, a CPSU member has shared their story of being stuck in fixed term and relief work in our state’s libraries for close to a decade. This is far from a one-off example.  

The CPSU regularly hears from members across the Department of Education struggling in similar circumstances. While clearly performing their work at a high level they are kept on in Band 1 positions for years on end, the Department apparently deems them undeserving of jobs or incomes they and their families can count on.  

Members regularly share the harrowing experience of being left to wonder whether there will be a new contract or relief role for them. Sometimes this comes as late as the night before, or even days after fixed terms appointments have expired. Far from feeling respected and valued in their roles, these workers are consigned to seemingly endless cycles of stress and anxiety about their future.   

The member we spoke to doesn’t feel valued by the Department and shared that their mental health has been significantly affected by the stress and uncertainty of insecure work and the financial difficulties it has produced. It impacts their confidence, the ability to take ownership of tasks, and there is very little scope for personal and professional development or any form of upskilling. 

And, as you can probably tell, they have chosen to share their story anonymously out of fear for the repercussions being identified could have on their prospects. Our public sector was founded on the principle of frankness and fearlessness in service to the community. The high levels of insecure and precarious work has only driven us further from the strong and independent public sector our society needs. The responsibility for this falls squarely at the feet of our government.  

Our member regularly trains new employees who themselves go on to secure permanent employment and as a Band 1 has worked alone undertaking duties and tasks that should not have been allocated to a Band 1 employee. On a positive note, they spoke very highly of the support received for our libraries from the community and just how welcoming the teams are.   

CPSU Organiser Trina Meurant met with another DOE employee who found themselves in the exact same situation for 10 years but has since been made permanent. For them, the change has been life changing. The State Service Act 2000 sets out all public sector workers’ rights to “a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace.” Where is the fairness or reward for those workers left waiting, or arbitrarily denied opportunities for permanency? How is this “equity in employment”?   

How is this a workplace practice that encourages, “communication, consultation, cooperation and input from employees on matters that affect their work and workplace”?  

To serve our community long-term, we need jobs that guarantee a reasonable income and hours. CPSU members are standing up for just that in our next wages agreement. Members recently endorsed 100 Claims for a Better State Service, including a claim to address the shortcomings in the Award around fixed-term and casual employment.  

If you are in this situation, please contact tmeurant@tas.cpsu.com.au to share your story or sign up to support our campaign for improved Rights, Voice and Pay across Tasmania’s public sector.   

Trina Meurant

Community & Public Sector Union SPSFT


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