Antonia Esten: There is a real need for the union and there always will be
Antonia Esten is a Community Corrections Officer (CCO) who takes workplace safety and workload seriously. In November Antonia took leave to travel to Community Corrections branches in Mirrabooka, Warwick, Rockingham and Mandurah to reach out to Department of Justice staff regarding the workload management survey.
Participation in the workload survey will deliver more information about workplace safety and a better chance to attain safer workloads for Antonia and her colleagues. When resourced effectively, CCOs make a genuine difference to the lives of West Australians trapped within a crime cycles. With adequate workload caps, it becomes easier to support, build insight and help West Australians coming up against the Justice system get back on the right path.
For Antonia, the decision to put in an extra effort was an easy one based on having experienced first-hand the history around workload campaigning:
“In 2007 we had an enormous action. Community Corrections Officers and other case workers walked out en-masse. They were crushed by the limitless workload. It ended with industrial action,” she said.
“The union had gone to arbitration and the Industrial Commission created a workload cap. Since that time, there has been a blowout in other forms of work. The union, with its delegates, came up against enormous pressure as there was this argument that pre-existing caps were in place and the statistics didn’t show any evidence of overwork. It has been a four to five year battle to reach a point where we could develop a co-branded survey with the Department so that the employer to look at union evidence.”
Antonia is proud of the successes that have been won so far but her mind is on the long-term strategy to win on workload.
Antonia has worked as a CCO in Department of Justice Adult Justice Services and Adult Community Corrections for eleven years and has been an active CPSU/CSA delegate for six years.
“Sitting on Department committees handling staff issues has been a real eye opener. It’s been inspiring to see our union work gain credibility within the Department. It can be easy to get discouraged but the union’s drive to keep campaigning is really welcome,” she said.
“Working as a delegate has also been a great opportunity to develop my own skills. Especially about learning my powers to speak up and be empowered to do something constructive about problems that arise in the workplace,” she said.
“There is a real need for the union and there always will be.”