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PSA service

Dear PSA member

I am writing to you because you signed a petition asking that the way the PSA functions in the Central West go back to the way it was before the Member Support Centre (MSC) was set up and asking not to be serviced by the MSC but by a Regional Organiser.

Before PSA staff and I decide how to manage the concerns you have raised, it is important for us to understand in what way you believe the service you receive in the Central West has deteriorated since the MSC was established. That way we can identify what needs to be done to improve things. The Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner and I will be visiting the local offices of your departments to hear your concerns. We are also currently undertaking a review of the MSC. This review was planned when the PSA introduced the MSC 18 months ago.

As background, it is useful to know why we have made some of the changes we have. You would be very aware that the state government has made radical changes to the way the public service works and this has meant that business as usual was not an option for a sustainable union. Also, with the massive increase in distressed members calling the PSA for help with bullying, performance management, restructure and redundancy complaints etc we needed to change the way we worked to deal with increased member needs. But most importantly, change was required inside the PSA because the government had so radically changed the way it works. With the establishment of the Public Service Commission and the Government Sector Employment Act, decisions are now made at a much higher level than previously. That means that things don’t tend to happen in isolation anymore. Whether it is the government’s attack on temporaries or performance management as part of the Capability Framework, decisions about how to implement change are no longer made at a local level.

The decisions are made at the Public Service Commissioner level or the Secretary level. This means that the PSA needs to allocate more resources to influence decisions before they become a major issue for our members. For example, this is what the PSA did with the threat against temporaries, most of whom would have been dismissed earlier this year if not for the strategic proactive work done by the PSA.

You may not be aware but, prior to the establishment of the MSC, the PSA had no database of emerging issues for our members on a departmental or agency level. The PSA did not keep proper records either regionally or centrally about which members were being serviced or visited. There was too much reliance on the corporate knowledge of individuals and level of service often depended on which members demanded the most attention. This meant that some members may have received an acceptable service but many got a less than satisfactory service.

I am not giving this information to you to diminish the concerns you have raised. I am saying that the PSA needed to work in a more strategic and evidence based way.  I recognise that living and working in a non-metropolitan area brings its own challenges and the Assistant General Secretary and I look forward to meeting with you and learning more about these challenges.

Yours in Unity

Anne Gardiner
General Secretary

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