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Tax Office to attack its own staff?

The Australian Tax Office is about to attack its own staff, according to the union covering public servants.

In ‘Every ATO job matters’ the Community and Public Sector Union says it is now clear that ATO management wants to:

  • massively increase the proportion of non-ongoing and contract staff
  • increase the use of outsourced labour
  • slash the conditions of non-ongoing staff.

Quite rightly the union is opposed to this. It says that with member support, it is pushing for a new agreement that includes:

  • No reduction to conditions
  • A 2% cap on the use of non-ongoing staff
  • ATO work to be done by the APS (not contractors)

To win these things – in this environment – we need your support. That means joining the union if you are not yet a CPSU member, and getting involved.

The union’s demands should go further than that. It should demand an end to the efficiency dividend, more Tax Office staff and large real wage increases. (I suspect Rudd is angling for a wages freeze in the public service.)

The CPSU should threaten to cut off the flow of revenue to Rudd and the rest of his Labor job cutters. Tax and other public servants can smash the ‘efficiency’ dividend tax on jobs if they walk off the job now.

The union should also make it crystal clear that it will defend members whether they are permanent, non-ongoing or contract. The best way it can do that is to campaign for all current non-ongoing and contract staff to be made permanent. 

Only industrial action by both permanent and non-permanent employees will win this and the other union demands.  

May (when the Budget is handed down) will be too late. Stop Labor and its mandarins in the ATO now.

The ATO’s logic is simple. The Union explained it a little while ago when it reported back to members on proposed ATO management attacks on Operations staff, one third of the ATO workforce.  Here is what is driving this job cutting agenda:

  • the need to make Operations more ‘flexible’
  • the need to reduce labour costs
  • difficulty with existing Government Budget allocations

All of these reasons – flexibility, the ‘efficiency’ dividend and labour costs – could easily apply across the ATO, not just in Operations . That makes me think this Operations attack is the first wave of restructurings, i.e.  job losses, in the ATO as a whole.

The same logic applies not just to the whole of the ATO but across the public service and indeed the workforce. The pressures on the ATO are the same pressures every other Departmental or Agency head is under, and they will all respond in the same general way – brutally attacking jobs and conditions, and imposing speed ups.

As I have written elsewhere (‘Rudd Labor to sack thousands of public servants?‘):

If you are a public servant, and not a union member, now would be a good time to join.  But don’t imagine that somehow the “union” will save you without you doing anything. The union leadership is essentially a conservatising force, afraid of industrial action and wedded to the ALP and the fear of upsetting it.  So if you do join, join prepared to argue and agitate for mass meetings, demonstrations, bans and strikes to defend public services, jobs, wages and conditions. Join and fight!

These meetings, bans and strikes should be on the union agenda now to force the Government to back down before their attacks become a debilitating and confidence destroying fait accompli. The added bonus is that such action would help rebuild the union, tainted from years of collaboration with the employer and class enemy – Hawke, Keating, Howard and Rudd.

As I said in a previous article ‘9000 Tax Office staff to go?‘:

CPSU members in the ATO should fight and call on other CPSU members to join them in their struggle against the efficiency dividend. They should demand other unions back their actions.  Only concerted strike action now, organised by rank and file members, can stop these vicious attacks from both the ATO and the Government.

If you are in the Tax Office and not a union member, join the CPSU. Do it now. The threat is real.

 The same situation faces workers across the Public Service. No one’s job is safe, as Rudd Minister Kim Carr confirmed the other day. Join the union and fightback!

All members – old and new, permanent and non-ongoing, in Tax or outside it – should organise now. Strike to defend jobs, wages and conditions. Smash the efficiency dividend.

I am a former long time member of the CPSU and a former Assistant Commissioner in the Australian Tax Office. I retired in June 2008.



Pingback from En Passant » The Tax Office: the attacks on staff continue
Time May 2, 2009 at 11:51 pm

[…] staff, as I predicted in my articles ‘9000 Tax Office staff to go?‘, and ‘Tax Office to attack its own staff’, are now being extended to all ATO […]

Pingback from En Passant » The Tax Office: the attacks on staff continue
Time May 3, 2009 at 8:22 pm

[…] staff, as John predicted in his articles ‘9000 Tax Office staff to go?‘, and ‘Tax Office to attack its own staff’, are now being extended to all ATO […]