The Guardian May 3, 2000


Anti-public service vendetta

A Federal Government manual advising Commonwealth Public Service heads 
of departments to lie and cheat in their dealings with their employees and 
unions is part of a broader strategy to demolish the public service. The 
Howard Government has carried out a vendetta against the public sector 
since coming to office, cutting thousands of public service staff, 
privatising and contracting out (in the case of the welfare system complete 
privatisation) and scrapping services across the board.

It is certainly no surprise that this manual on the art of gunning down 
workers comes from the Peter Reith's Department of Workplace Relations: his 
anti-worker credentials have been well and truly demonstrated.

The manual was written by a consulting group in Reith's own Department 
called Workplace Partners Training Services. He has not revealed how much 
they billed the Government for their dirty work.

Managers using the manual would be in breach of the Public Service Act, 
which states that the Public Service will have the highest ethical 
standards, and for public servants to behave honestly and with integrity in 
the course of their employment.

They would also be in breach of the Workplace Relations Act which requires 
both parties to negotiate in good faith.

Community and Public Sector Union National Secretary, Wendy Caird, said, 
"Over the last few years, Australian Public Service (APS) management has 
persuaded staff that they don't need the professional support and advice of 
unions and that they should embrace more direct employee/employer 
relations.

"The exposure of the training manual has revealed the true nature of the 
APS employers bargaining tactics and the lengths management will go to in 
negotiating to win at all costs.

Some of the tactics outlined in the manual include:

* Make false demands  when you have many demands, introduce a few false 
issues. This disguises your serious interests and allows you to make 
concessions thus giving the other party a sense of gain.

* Stall for time  call adjournment, caucus, reserve answer until later. 
Do nothing.

* Pretend ignorance  to delay proceedings, or to put the other party off 
guard, act ill-informed and ask advice.

* Discredit associations  associate the other party/other party's case 
with some unsavoury connection.

* Give ultimatum  state your final offer on a clear "take it or leave it 
basis.

* Give a biased sample  provide statistical (mis)information. Support 
your case by selecting the most favourable (biased) sample.

* Make negative comments.

This latest attack on public service staff is part of the Government's 
objective to destroy the major pillars of the public service  the 
provision of services, universal welfare benefits and public 
accountability.

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