Union takes NSW Public Service Commission to court over job cuts

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday September 24, 2020

Gladys Berejiklian
Gladys Berejiklian (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

The New South Wales Public Service Commission plans to axe 10 senior roles involved with meeting public sector diversity targets, according to the public sector union.

In 2019 Premier Gladys Berejiklian set a target of having employed 114 senior leaders from Indigenous backgrounds in the state’s public sector by 2025, as part of her plan to foster a “world class” public service.

Other public sector diversity targets to be achieved in that time frame included women to hold 50% of senior leadership roles, and people with a disability to hold 5.6% of government sector roles.

But this week the Public Service Association said a restructure of the NSW Public Service Commission has seen 10 senior jobs slashed. The leadership of the diversity team, which is responsible for delivering the diversity targets, has been cut from four to one.

The PSA has taken the Public Service Commission to the Industrial Relations Commission over the move, and is concerned that there are more cuts to come.

Read more: ‘Ambitious’ new Premier’s Priorities for NSW

Just last week the state government launched a campaign encouraging women to stand for election in local councils.

PSA general secretary Stewart Little said it was “ironic” that the government would focus on this “rather than properly invest in implementing diversity measures in its own workforce”.

He warned that the premier’s ambitious plan to boost diversity in the public service was under threat.

“Two thirds of NSW public sector workers are women — yet they earn on average $2002 less, or 2.2% than their male colleagues. They are consistently under represented at the senior leadership levels. This doesn’t change without actually investing in a plan to tackle it and then measuring it,” he said.

“We’ve seen the rate of people with a disability employed by the NSW government actually decline from 3.7% in 2010 to 2.5% in 2019. Meanwhile Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be over represented in lower salary band jobs, rather than leading our departments.

“The premier said she believes ‘what gets measured, gets done’ but her government is slashing the roles that do the measuring and the doing. These are supposed to be her top priorities but her government’s crippling the ability of the service to deliver it.”

Stewart noted that, as Australia’s largest employer, the NSW government has the power to address a number of structural issues, such as the “persistent pay gap between men and women”, poor employment outcomes for people living with a disability, and the lack of Indigenous Australian representation at senior levels of government.

Read more: NSW public sector takes aim at Indigenous employment targets with three-point strategy


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