I wish to respond to the article published yesterday in the Mandarin titled Bargaining policy: clock ticking on government’s toxic war with its own workforce by Ms Verona Burgess.
I contest a number of the claims made in the article.
The article included significant commentary from Ms Flood. It included critical comment about the APSC. We were not offered the opportunity to respond.
A major cause of protracted bargaining was the entrenched opposition by the CPSU and other unions to agreement proposals put forward by Government agencies. Many staff were prepared to vote for those agreements.
The Bargaining Policy did not mandate the removal of conditions of employment, nor a return to the award.
The article records Ms Flood’s assertions that the Policy encourages the use of labour hire, contractors, and individual agreements. In fact, the Policy acknowledges that flexibilities such as non-ongoing employment, contracting, and individual flexibility arrangements are available to Commonwealth employers, like all employers in Australia.
The policy does not prohibit, limit or conversely encourage the use of contractors or labour hire. Agencies need to enter into arrangements that best suit their operations. The use of a contingent workforce is a normal feature of doing business and can assist agencies meet variable challenges and priorities.
The article states that remuneration is “forbidden to be retrospective”. This ignores the long-standing principle adopted by successive governments that increases be prospective. Prospective increases are also conducive to effective workplace bargaining.
It is to be hoped that, following the release of the new Bargaining Policy in February 2018, the CPSU will adopt a more realistic and pragmatic approach.It is disappointing that these misunderstandings about the Policy persist, despite the evidence.