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Six more agencies vote up EBAs — but many still going without

Six more Australian Public Service agencies have voted through enterprise bargaining agreements in recent days, as two-thirds of APS staff face their third Christmas without a pay rise.

There have been 82 new enterprise agreements voted up in the current round of Commonwealth public sector bargaining, with the Attorney-General’s Department, Screen Australia, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the National Health and Medical Research Council, Tourism Australia and the National Mental Health Commission joining the tally recently.

Some just scraped through — 52% voted yes at Screen Australia, and 58% at Attorney General’s and the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency — while the National Mental Health Commission’s proposal received 100% support.

Staff in the four largest agencies, which account for 60% of Commonwealth public servants — the Department of Human Services, Australian Taxation Office, Department of Defence and Department of Immigration and Border Protection — do not yet have agreements in place.

Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd continues to push for public servants to sign onto EBAs under the government’s bargaining policy.

“These agreements provide sustainable wage increases, improve productivity and maintain valued terms and conditions,” he said in a press release.

“The Australian public more than ever, rightly expects the public sector to be as productive and efficient as possible.”

Lloyd is critical of the role the Community and Public Sector Union has played.

“Over recent months, the main public sector union has engaged in unconventional tactics,” he argues.

“The CPSU has failed to successfully negotiate any agreements in this round. It has not even supported agreements when it was clear that the overwhelming majority of staff were in favour.

“I encourage those parties still engaged in bargaining to move forward in a pragmatic fashion to settle new agreements. In only 12 months’ time, APS employees who reached agreements early under the policy, will be commencing bargaining for the next round of salary increases,” Lloyd says.

The union hit back, questioning the commissioner’s positivity about the direction of the bargaining policy.

“It’s absolutely extraordinary for John Lloyd to be crowing about the success of his bargaining policy, as 100,000 Commonwealth public sector workers are just a few days out from their third Christmas without a pay rise. It’s a truly horrible situation for them and their families,” says CPSU national president Alistair Waters

“As usual Mr Lloyd is disingenuously focussing on the number of Commonwealth agencies that have new agreements while ignoring the bigger picture. The fact that two-thirds of workers don’t have new agreements after so long underlines Mr Lloyd’s spectacular failing as APSC Commissioner.”

“Mr Lloyd has finally acknowledged that the four largest agencies still don’t have new agreements, but bizarrely he continues to claim that the CPSU somehow has the power to make union and non-union members vote against their own interests. Deals have been voted down at least three times in these agencies because workers know a dud deal when they see one.”

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service Michaelia Cash recently confirmed that the government’s bargaining policy will continue unchanged.

Author Bio

David Donaldson

David Donaldson is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He's previously written for The Guardian and Crikey and holds a masters in international relations.