Union addresses gap in APS employee census with new labour hire survey

By Shannon Jenkins

January 20, 2021

Melissa Donnelly
CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly. (Image: CPSU)

The Community and Public Sector Union has launched a survey aimed at giving the tens of thousands of Australian Public Service workers who have been employed through labour hire a greater voice on workplace issues.

Launched on Wednesday, the survey has been created to replicate the Australian Public Service Commission’s annual employee census, which has been conducted since 2012. While the APS census covers a range of key workplace issues, including staff wellbeing, leadership, and development, it excludes labour hire staff.

The union has called on labour hire staff in the public sector to take its new survey, which it has argued will “ensure that the government cannot ignore labour hire workers any longer”.

“Labour hire workers deserve respect, job security and equal pay for equal work, and they deserve to be heard,” it said.

Read more: More than 230 senior NDIA staff employed through labour hire, documents show

An increasing number of staff are being employed through labour hire due to the commonwealth’s Average Staffing Levels cap, according to CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly.

She noted that since 2013, more than 12,000 jobs have been cut from the APS as a result of the cap.

“We know that because of this staffing cap there are around 20,000 workers on labour hire in the APS. In fact in some agencies over 40% of their workforce are staffed with workers who are not directly employed but are contracted through labour hire companies,” she said.

The impacts of the staff cap and the capability of the APS will be investigated by a senate inquiry which was established last month, following repeated calls for the cap to be abolished.

Donnelly said that since the government has “refused” to count APS labour hire workers in the annual census, the CPSU labour hire census would fill the gap.

“Every year the government counts its staff, and seeks feedback from its workforce, but due to the ASL cap tens of thousands of workers that deliver for the public sector are left without a voice, ignored by the government and the APSC,” she said.

“The government is trying to privatise the public sector by stealth, and at the same time is refusing to acknowledge or hear from the workers they rely on.”

The 2020 APS employee census results have not yet been released due to the survey being delayed last year as a result of COVID-19.

Read more: Research reveals extent of outsourcing Australian Public Service jobs


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