Permanency Creates Thriving Communities

Clare Utley has been a CPSU/CSA union delegate since starting in the public service with the Office of State Revenue, more than 33 years ago. After moving to Albany 15 years ago, Clare continued her career with the Forest Products Commission as the Senior Conveyancing Officer.

Clare's dedication to the members she works with is one of the reasons she makes a perfect Champion Job Security and Permanency Champion as part of the Your Union Agreement campaign. Clare knows public sector permanency is critical to spending confidence in regional economies. 

“There is an increasing dependence on contract staff and I know permanency is one thing that is very important to people here and across the sector. Unless you have permanency in your position, it’s impossible to plan your life properly.

“If people want to apply for a loan to get a car or a mortgage and if they are on a short-term contract how can you plan for that? How can you plan to take your family away on a holiday if you don’t know if you will have a job in three or six months’ time?

“It impacts some people’s state of mind simply because they don’t have that surety, they don’t know what is happening.

“If they try to make long term plans to deal with clients or provide services and they are only able to say they will be in the position for the next three months. How is that providing good service to the public, which is what we should be doing?”

Day-to-day Clare is responsible for looking over contracts and handling the legal side of the Commission’s projects, but occasionally she is fortunate enough to get out to the picturesque plantations and forests of the region – a part of her role she appreciates. 

Clare is also incredibly passionate about her role as a Delegate. “So much information comes through nowadays, but because I am here I can sit down with members and make sure that they understand and are aware of what is going on. It is important to have someone on the ground who is that connection between the union and the people,” says Clare.

Clare’s experience and the stories of her colleagues are all too familiar across the sector, which is why the Your Union Agreement campaign will put forward claims for public sector workers that prioritise conversion to permanency and provide better safe-guards around the use of labour hire. Clare is hopeful that these changes will go a long way to rejuvenate employment in regional areas.

“In regional areas, these provisions will have an even greater impact on peoples’ willingness to stay in small towns. If they can gain a permanent position, then they’ll stay in the organisation and the skills they bring to their work will benefit that community.

“If they’re not able to gain a permanent position, particularly if they are offered very short term contracts then they will leave, they will go where they can find those positions. The skills and the knowledge will leave the region and that is a real shame.”

Members of the CPSU/CSA are making a claim that prioritises job security with a range of clauses that will provide for an end to the contracting-out of public services, better control over the use of labour hire, conversion to permanency for those on fixed-term contracts for more than 18 months, and provisions that prioritise permanency over short term, casual and contract-based employment.

To read the full claim, check out the Your Union Agreement campaign page here.