Eric Abetz unmoved as his own department rejects austerity

Eric Abetz is playing hardball with staff in his own department, despite an overwhelming rejection of a new pay deal. The union wants changes to bargaining policy to strike a deal.

Only 77 Department of Employment staff voted to accept a proposed enterprise bargaining agreement that was put to them yesterday, while 95% rejected the deal.

Despite such a clear rejection of the meagre offer, which would see employees lose significant benefits and their real wages go backwards, the government is keeping the brakes on public service remuneration.

Minister for Employment Eric Abetz, who is also responsible for the public service, was unmoved by the result in his own department, which is the first to have put a new enterprise bargaining agreement to an all-staff vote under the Coalition. In a statement to the media, he said politicians and senior government officials had “led by example” by accepting a pay freeze and urged public servants to accept the austerity imposed by the Abbott government, through an enterprise bargaining framework far stricter than the one it replaced:

“The government has made it clear that everyone on the Commonwealth payroll needs to show restraint at this time, particularly given that public servants have received wage rises of 42% over the past 10 years compared to [consumer price index] increases of 28%.”

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