Faction fight could end up in court
A battle is raging within the NSW public sector union.
Factional forces aligned to the ALP and Greens are wreaking havoc on the internal structure of the state’s Public Service Association (PSA)
It has led PSA president Sue Walsh to take legal, action she discovered the contents of her office packed in boxes.
Ms Walsh is a Labor Party member linked to the "rank and file faction" that is known to be aligned with previous PSA leader John Cahill.
She moved to suspend union general secretary Anne Gardiner this week. Ms Gardiner is a member of the Greens Party, works for WorkCover, and was elected to her position with the backing of a faction known as “the progressives”.
Ms Gardiner says the president should work outside the PSA headquarters in Sydney's CBD, but Ms Walsh was seconded to work in the PSA office under the tenure of previous general secretary, Mr Cahill.
“The president has a laptop, internet connection, mobile phone and all consumables provided for them at home as is reasonable for an honorary official,” Mr Gardiner told Fairfax this week.
Ms Gardiner said there had been a number of complaints about Ms Walsh “standing over staff”.
“I am undertaking my work with the best interest of the staff and the members as my priority. I'm very comfortable with all the decisions I have made,” Ms Gardiner - the first general secretary directly elected by the membership – told reporters.
Ms Gardiner says Ms Walsh does not have the power to suspend her.
PSA rules allow the president to suspend an officer for misappropriation of funds, gross misbehaviour or gross neglect of duty, but only until the next council meeting.
Ms Walsh says Ms Gardiner is “totally out of control”.
“The latest thing she has done is to expel me from the building. My lawyer wrote her a letter saying she can't do that and she didn't respond,” Ms Walsh said.
“At the weekend she brought in the firm Grace and they have packed up all my personal belongings and work files and I walked into an empty office.
“Today, I gave her a letter which was a notice I was suspending her and she just totally ignored it.”
Ms Gardiner says she he was elected “to create significant change in the union and that's what I've done”.
Ms Walsh says she is restructuring the union according to her own vision.
“She is running the union like it is a government department,” Ms Walsh said.