The Community and Public Sector Union has raised concerns over a wage deal that could see commonwealth political staffers, the majority of whom are women, take a pay cut.
The proposed enterprise agreement for Members of Parliament Staff (MoPS) is being completed under the new Workplace Bargaining Policy 2020, which allows for negative pay adjustments instead of pay rises.
The union has warned that this could see wages go backwards over time.
“The proposed replacement MoPS EA is the first ever commonwealth public sector EA offer that does not include a ‘pay increase’ clause,” it said in an analysis seen by The Mandarin.
“Bizarrely, government policy now provides for mystery ‘salary adjustments’ aligned with the Private Sector Wage Price Index figure for each year of the EA. There is no floor on how low that figure could go.”
The CPSU has called on staff to vote ‘no’ to the proposed agreement. Voting opened on Friday.
“It is not an agreement that acknowledges your hard work,” assistant national secretary Michael Tull said.
“No worker should face such uncertainty. We hold grave concerns around the precedent that could be set.”
Earlier this week the CPSU forced the Department of Finance’s Ministerial and Parliamentary Services (MaPS) to correct a “false and misleading” circular which had advised staff that the proposed deal contained three ‘salary increases’, despite the possibility that the deal could see negative pay adjustments.
Other concerns about the agreement have included the inclusion of a controversial clause which would allow for the payment of super above the guarantee as salary, gender pay gap issues, and a lack of standalone family and domestic violence leave.
The CPSU had called for a stand-alone entitlement to at least 20 days paid family and domestic violence leave, but it was rejected.
“This is especially bad for female employees (who are more likely to be subjected to such violence). The response from the government is disgraceful and inferior to bargaining outcomes across the commonwealth public sector,” it said.
The majority of workers currently employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act are women.
A CPSU spokesperson told The Mandarin that MoPS bargaining was meant to be finalised at the start of this year, but the Department of Finance “dragged their feet during the peak of the pandemic”. As a result, members will not receive a 2% pay rise.