VPS secretaries and union to discuss budget cuts

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday May 18, 2021

Tim Pallas and Daniel Andrews
Tim Pallas and Daniel Andrews, 2020. (Image: AAP)

The union representing Victorian public sector workers will this week meet with state government secretaries following news of wage caps and cuts to back-office jobs.

Treasurer Tim Pallas on Saturday revealed that the government wants to reduce annual salary increases across the state public sector from 3% to 2%, and announced that the government wages policy would be adjusted with a reduction in the guaranteed annual base increase from 2% to 1.5%.

Pallas said the cuts would mainly affect back-office staff, which the Community and Public Sector Union said was ‘most disappointing from a Labor government’ and would impact services.

“You look a bit stupid holding the hose if there’s no one to turn the tap on,” Victorian branch secretary Karen Batt said of the cuts on Monday.

The measures aim to save $3.6 billion over four years, which the CPSU has criticised in light of the public sector workforce’s efforts during COVID-19 and the Black Summer bushfires.

“Our agreements run through until March 2024 and our wage outcomes are secure, but the saving dollars in the forward estimates will be compounded once the new wage cap is implemented because it will cut the supplementation to departments and agencies and that will hurt service delivery as PS employers move to mitigate this loss of revenue and implement the dodgy employment practices we know all so well,” the CPSU said.

“The value of our federally registered VPS Agreement 2020 will come to the fore now as it stipulates how mobility (transition) is to be used and this will ensure everyone and their employment is protected.”

READ MORE: No major public service cuts in Victorian budget, Pallas says

In a communique to public servants on Saturday, Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Jeremi Moule said some of the measures announced by the government ahead of Thursday’s budget would require a ‘workforce transition’ within the public service.

“The hard work, professionalism and dedication of our VPS workforce has been our greatest asset throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the value of our people will remain front of mind as we work together through this transition with our employees and public sector unions,” he wrote.

“A key focus will be building internal capability and reducing reliance on contractors and consultants. Workforce mobility through the Jobs and Skills Exchange will be an important tool. The impacts of these measures will be different across different departments and divisions. In the weeks following the budget, we will begin to assess what the measures mean for DPC and will engage further with our workforce and unions as we do.”

The CPSU said it would meet with secretaries this week to ‘ensure jobs are protected’ and the ‘spirit’ of Moule’s message was adhered to.

The union has also contacted Industrial Relations Victoria, which is coordinating policy implementation on its non-negotiables about secure work and the use of contracts, contractors, and consultants.

READ MORE: NSW public servants wage increases slashed in $3 billion cost cutting effort


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