CPSU Secretary Thirza White on the Year That’s Been

The last twelve months have been one of the busiest in our union’s history.  

It’s hard to believe that just a year ago we were still facing statewide lockdowns amid the largest WHS risk to our workplaces in a generation – COVID-19. Together we fought for the right to safety measures and income protection.  

Union members raised their voices for a commitment of funding for air purifiers in schools. We fought for and won an audit which identified over 8,000 windows in Tasmanian schools that required urgent maintenance to allow adequate ventilation and reduce the risk of infection. We fought for an escalation allowance to support health and prison workers to deal with the influx of cases as borders re-opened. 

What we’ve seen over the last year is that under this government, it is only taking action that gets action.  

Last year prison workers walked out and spoke up to get the training recruits need to take up and continue the work of keeping our communities safe and turning lives around. Biosecurity workers, putting their bodies on the line at our borders where the risk was greatest, took a stand to demand respect and an end to insecure contracts which guaranteed just 50 hours a year – and they won. 

We should never back away from taking action when we know that it leads to increasing the dignity of workers and to strengthening our public sector. 

Now we’re turning to our next public sector agreement to lock in new rights and conditions to strengthen the services we deliver to the Tasmanian community,and improve the working lives of those who deliver them.  

Over a thousand workers have contributed to our 100 Claims for a Better State Service. At the core of this claim are five key values that our claim needs to deliver. 

We need trauma-safe workplaces. A lot of our members do work that is incredibly confronting and even a risk to their health. We need adequate supports in place to ensure they can continue to deliver those services. 

We need Jobs We Can Count On. Workers need to know that their job will continue next year so that we can continue to deliver the services Tasmanians rely on. 

We need parity across the public sector and with the mainland. Without it, our state’s recruitment and retention crisis will continue. When we do not have workers in roles – those services simply don’t get delivered, and by allowing this trend to continue government simply shifts the social costs onto our community. We all deserve better. 

We need to ensure the skills of our public sector workers are used in the best way possible, by having improved career pathways and recognition of professional skills and qualifications.  

And because we are living in this new post-COVID world, we need new rights. Like a right to work flexibly and remotely.  

This claim goes right to the heart of the issues at stake for the Tasmanian community. Each one is about strengthening and improving our public sector to tackle those issues. 

For the past 125 years the Community & Public Sector Union has worked to improve the everyday rights and conditions of public sector workers in our community. It’s been an incredibly busy year with significant change at every level of government. Our organisation is small; but with over 200 Delegates and thousands of passionate members we have the collective might and right to take our challenges head on. 

We end this year with a celebration of our union’s place in Tasmania’s history as we mark our 125th anniversary. This is a small organisation with big aspirations. United we have what it takes to take on the challenges ahead. 

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