The Community and Public Sector Union’s (CPSU) campaign to ‘Bring back the CES’ has gained further momentum with the ACT Labor Conference endorsing the union’s ‘Employment Services and Mutual Obligations’ motion.

The motion calls on the Federal Labor Government to:

  • permanently suspend mutual obligations and work towards bringing the employment services system back as a public service; and
  • work with unions, civil society groups and employers to develop a new public employment services model that is not punitive and genuinely improves employment outcomes.

This is the 4th Labor Party conference this year that has passed the CPSU’s motion. Others include the ALP Women’s Conference, the Victorian State ALP Conference, and the Queensland State ALP Conference.

The recently published ALP draft National Policy Platform, which goes to the ALP National Conference in August, has already picked up part of the CPSU proposal on mutual obligations. The draft platform has significant amendments to the party’s stance on mutual obligations, including recognising the negative impacts of mutual obligations and committing to developing a revised approach.

Quotes attributable to Melissa Donnelly, CPSU National Secretary:

“The CPSU is proud to be championing a campaign to end the failed privatisation of employment services, and reform this system into one that helps people find a good job and employers find the staff they need.

“The current system is not fit-for-purpose, and the mutual obligations framework that underpins it causes harm. This is why any reform or overhaul of employment services must include abolishing mutual obligations.

“There is overwhelming evidence that when businesses are running employment services to make a profit they put their own financial interets ahead of the needs of clients. We need to take the profit motive out and replace it with a public service - a modern, fit-for-purpose CES focused on the needs of people.

“There is a growing choir of advocates and organisations speaking out about the failures of the current set up, and having this motion passed at the ALP Women’s conference, the Victorian and Queensland Labor Conferences and now at the ACT Labor Conference, shows that the momentum is also building in the Australian Labor Party.”

“The establishment of a modern CES would rebuild capacity and capability within the APS. It would allow the Commonwealth to play a direct role in shaping labour market changes and responding to economic and policy challenges. And it would rewrite the relationship between the government and job seekers, which is hugely overdue.

Media contact: Tori McGregor 0429 000 620