Public service union slams leaked policy

THE Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has accused federal ministers of acting with “duplicity” by stating the government was not ready to discuss pay and conditions for its employees while they were drafting a hardline new enterprise bargaining policy in the background.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood says public sector workers “are facing a double whammy” from the Abbott government.

“Firstly thousands of jobs are being cut and the remaining staff are being flogged harder to get the work done,” Ms Flood says.

“Secondly, no-one is going to get a pay rise that keeps up with inflation, unless they agree to have their rights and conditions cut.

“As we saw with SPC Ardmona and Toyota, this Government is more interested in having a political go at workers and unions than making fair and productive workplace agreements.”

The union cites “multiple sources” in the public service who say a new “Australian Government Employment and Workplace Relations Policy” has been through Cabinet and could be released as early as this Friday, February 21.

Ms Flood says the information received by the union describes a “highly aggressive policy to cut real wages, conditions and rights” that will apply to all Australian Public Service (APS) agencies as well as non-APS agencies such as the CSIRO, according to the CPSU.

“We have 160,000 workers on agreements that expire on 30 June,” she says. “Instead of talking to the CPSU about its bargaining policy, the Government has drawn up a plan to force agencies to cut workers’ rights with no genuine negotiations.”

Based on the details of the leaked policy, the union says the government will use the upcoming round of enterprise bargaining to seek “significant cuts to public service employment conditions and allowances” with pay rises only granted in exchange for the loss of other conditions and entitlements.

The union says wage increases have also been capped at 2.5 per cent and that the government has ruled out any central negotiations with the CPSU, preferring to leave all negotiations up to individual agencies, at the same time as “imposing a centralised system designed to severely restrict how agencies can bargain”.

According to the CPSU, the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) is to have a representative in the room to oversee all negotiations and “ensure adherence to [the] central agenda”, working closesly with employment minister Eric Abetz, who is also Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service.

The policy draft is also said to use a narrow definition of productivity that only recognises “cuts to direct employee costs”, ignoring productivity gains from a reduced workforce expected to achieve the same outcomes, cut personal and carers leave (sick leave) to a service-wide maximum of 15 days, tighten up voluntary redundancy processes and reduce engagement with unions, partly by limiting recognition of union delegates.

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