It’s all about accountability.
Well-led and well-governed women’s groups will always contribute the the long term well being of women. So it had been with the PSA Women’s Council since the 1930′s.
That’s why it disappoints that the PSA leadership has secretly changed the governance of Women’s Council in late December 2011 by changing the unions rules.
Before the rule change all women members of the PSA were also members of the PSA Women’s Council. After the rules changed on 20 December 2011, 99% of PSA women ceased to be members of the Women’s Council.
Now, the redefined Women’s Council (formally known as the Women’s Council committee) consists of just 1% of women members from the PSA Executive, Central Council and some delegates.
Prior to the changes the Women’s Council committee (a body of about 70 women) was accountable to all women members annually at an AGM and biennially at the ballot box. There were also mechanisms for ordinary members to petition for General Meetings to hold the committee to account.
Now this committee renamed as Women’s Council is accountable only to itself at AGMs of its own membership. There are no mechanisms between elections for ordinary women members to hold the committee to account.
In the 3 months since all women members ceased to have broad oversight over this Women’s committee it has passed a resoultion to double its own electoral term and have this apply retrospectively rather than prospectively. It is due for an election in a few months and they resloved to put this off until 2014.
Women’s Council committee meetings might reasonably be estimated to cost around $5,000 a pop for the attendance of “honorary officials”; if this estimate is correct that’s around $50,000 annually based on the current meeting schedule. Over a four year electoral term that’s around $200,000 of members union dues that are being diverted to these “honorary officials” without the capacity of those due paying members, in whose interests they act, to participate in the direction or comment on the effectiveness of their endeavours.
Women need to be especially vigilant to ensure their organisations are well-run and well-governed so they survive and continue the fight for equality.
The PSA leaderships actions are a huge blow to the legitimacy of Women’s Council and it goes without saying, the interests of women members of the PSA. ”
Kirsten Cameron (Kirsten is a PSA woman, directly elected workplace delegate and elected office bearer on her PSA Departmental Committee)
“Those who voted for this rule change at Women’s Council – and I note it was moved by the President Sue Walsh – did not discuss this prior with those in their electorates who elected them to their positions. Where is the democracy in that?”
Sadie Spencer (Sadie is Vice Chair of the Department of Attorney General and Justice Departmental Committee, in a personal capacity)
Resolution Carried at Women’s Council Committee, March 2012
3. That the elections for the member’s of Women’s Council be held every four years and the next Women’s council election be held in 2014. Further, that the term of the current council be extended to 2014.
MOVED: S Walsh
SECONDED: J Sternbeck
The most recent Women’s Council Committee elections, in 2010, was dominated for the first time by factional interests when supporters of the current ruling factions mysteriously gained access to members email addresses and used them to win the election. The same access to PSA membership emails was not afforded the independents or supporters of the Progressive PSA caucus. Understandably, the dominant Rank and File and Members First factions won those elections. They then proceeded to dismantle the previously non-factional conventions of Women’s Council.
In December 2011 the same faction leadership manoeuvred to change the Women’s Council Rules, in similar fashion to the undemocratic Central Council election Rules changes of 2008. This time it is women members who are the target.
The PSA Rules and By-laws have been changed to remove the provision that all women members are part of PSA Women Council. Women’s Council will now consist only of elected councillors
In future the ‘new’ Women’s Council could meet as few as four times per year instead of nine as is currently the case.
Women’s Council Committee elections were due this year. The current Women’s Council Committee, led by Sue Walsh, has unilaterally extended its hold over the Women’s Council for an extra two years. There will be no election until 2014. Other PSA delegate advisory bodies face election at least each two years, if not annually.
Ordinary women members are no longer able to participate in an Annual General Meeting of Women’s Council, which has been reserved for delegates. This attacks the accountability of delegates to the members they represent.
You won’t read about any of these undemocratic changes in Red Tape or official PSA emails. Only factional loyalists were privy to these changes. It is suspected that these changes may have passed the faction dominated Central Council on the occasions when observers, who are financial members, were ejected from the proceedings last year contrary to PSA Rules.