Union rallies over ATO 'broadcast email'

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Union rallies over ATO 'broadcast email'

Delegate berated for sending unsolicited messages.

The Community and Public Sector Union will meet in Adelaide this week to protest Australian Taxation Office (ATO) policy that disallows union delegates from sending unsolicited email to other staff.

Union members planned to meet outside the ATO's Waymouth Street office to support Alan Hixson, who had been disciplined by the ATO for sending an email to 30 staff.

The message (pdf), sent on 19 October, invited staff to attend lunchtime union meetings about public service bargaining arrangements.

It was deemed a 'blanket or broadcast email' that contravened ATO policy, and resulted in a Formal Written Direction and Formal Written Warning being issued to Hixson.

An ATO spokesman said its Employee Consultative Representative Framework disallowed union delegates from sending "unsolicited emails to ATO employees who are not union members or who have not notified the union they want to receive material from them".

"If an ATO employee is not complying with any policy whatever it covers, or has indicated they do not intend to comply with any policy, we will issue them with a direction to follow the policy.

"If they still contravene our policy after they have specifically been directed not to, we can take conduct action."

The spokesman noted that the ATO Employee Consultative Representative Framework had been developed in consultation with unions.

But the union argued that it did not comply with the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Gillard Government's policy on public sector industrial relations.

In a letter (pdf) to ATO Commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo dated 21 October, union deputy secretary Rupert Evans required the ATO to withdraw the warnings issued to Hixson within three days.

Evans branded the ATO's action against Hixson as "unlawful, discriminatory and unacceptable". iTnews was unable to reach him for further comment.

The rally would take place today at 12.30pm.

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