Union accuses Vic government of ‘hubris’ over stance on super

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday February 12, 2020

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The union representing the Victorian Public Service has criticised the state government over its call for the Commonwealth government to increase super contributions.

On Wednesday Treasurer Tim Pallas announced Victoria had asked the federal government to deliver on its commitment to increase the Super Guarantee rate to 12%, and to “provide a pathway” for it to be lifted to 15%, in a bid to “make superannuation work for women”.

The Victorian branch of the Community and Public Sector Union has criticised the government for rejecting a similar request for its own workers, the majority of whom are women.

The union had requested an increase in super to 12% over the life of the next agreement but it was rejected.

When asked why he had turned down the CPSU’s request for increased payments, Pallas said the Commonwealth had a responsibility for lifting the super contribution levels, according to The Age.

“The important outcome here is that the Commonwealth have responsibility for legislating,” he said.

CPSU state secretary Karen Batt has slammed his statement.

“It’s about hubris and hyperbole and politicking as the state government doesn’t need federal legislation to increase Super payments to their own employees,” she told The Mandarin.

“These advocates of increasing super won’t pay an increase to their own workforce, mostly modestly paid women, having rejected outright just recently our claim to lift super for the state’s workforce.

“The Victorian Government could lead the way but has rejected our request to increase super to 12% over four years and they still have a huge underpayment to address for their rostered workers.”

In a submission to the Commonwealth’s Review of the Retirement Income System, Victoria made a number of recommendations, including:

  • Making superannuation payable as part of the Commonwealth’s Paid Parental Leave scheme,
  • Mandating superannuation funds to introduce a fee-free period of up to 12 months for parents on parental leave,
  • Allow joint superannuation accounts for couples, including same-sex couples,
  • Amend the sex discrimination act to allow employers to offer higher superannuation payments for female employees without requiring them to seek exemptions.

Pallas said Canberra should fast-track its commitment to lift the superannuation rate to 12%, and to provide a pathway for it to be increased again to 15%.

“The superannuation system is outdated – and it needs refreshing to stamp out the discrimination that some Victorians face,” he said.

Last month the union engaged former Fair Work Commission deputy president Greg Smith to facilitate pay negotiations between the CPSU and the state government. It has been persistently pushing for a pay increase above 2% while the Enterprise Agreements of roughly 50,000 public servants and government workers has expired.

The state government said in November that its pay rise offer would stay at 2%, despite its MPs receiving a 3.5% base pay rise from September, after they had already received a 2.92% increase in July.

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