29 February 2024

APS pay deal marching towards service-wide acceptance

| Chris Johnson
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More APS agencies voted to adopt the enterprise agreement negotiated between the government and the CPSU. Photo: File.

More Australian Public Service agencies have voted in favour of enterprise agreements negotiated between the Federal Government and employee representatives.

Staff at Services Australia, Home Affairs, the Department of Defence and the Australian Taxation Office are the most recent to say yes to their individual agency agreements, encompassing the negotiated service-wide package of pay rises and conditions.

These latest acceptances add up to more than half of all APS agencies voting in favour of the agreement.

An 11.2 per cent pay rise over three years across the APS is the standout feature of the EA and its most controversial point.

However, a sign-on bonus offered by the Australian Public Service Commission to encourage a favourable vote before next month’s deadline has proven to be a winner for the government.

The agreement also includes improved workplace conditions, including flexible working arrangements and a bias towards accepting work-from-home requests.

The Community and Public Sector Union released the latest voting results on Wednesday (28 February), saying there was overwhelming support for the negotiated APS-wide pay and conditions package.

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The ATO saw a 76.87 per cent yes vote, with 83.96 per cent of the workforce participating.

Services Australia returned a 93.4 per cent yes vote, with 80 per cent of its workforce participating, while Home Affairs saw a 97.1 per cent yes vote, with an 84.16 per cent participation rate.

Defence, which voted earlier in the month, returned a 97.27 per cent yes vote from an 80.9 per cent workplace participation rate.

CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly said that with more than half of all APS employees now settled on new enterprise agreements, the union’s focus will shift to enforcing the new conditions, particularly the new flexible working rights.

“We have been pleased to see high turnout and strong positive responses, with ballot results reflecting the wider sentiment that exists among employees,” Ms Donnelly said.

“This is a good package that is already delivering strong, industry-leading conditions to APS employees, improved pay, and a financial boost.

“With a strong foundation of industry-leading conditions and improved pay, our focus will now shift to supporting CPSU members as they access their new rights and conditions.”

In November last year, CPSU members voted to accept the service-wide pay and conditions package, with bargaining then moving to the agency level to reach an agreement over agency-specific details.

As each agreement is reached, the EA goes to a vote where all employees in the respective agencies can vote on it.

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This has been progressing steadily as the overall deadline draws nearer.

Other agencies that have so far voted in favour of the EA include Finance; National Health Funding Body; Department of Health and Ageing; Treasury; Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet; Education; Administrative Appeals Tribunal; Australian Research Council; Organ and Tissue Authority; Commonwealth Grants Commission; Food Standards Australia New Zealand; Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; APSC; Cancer Australia; Civil Aviation Safety Authority (a non-APS government agency); Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care; Office of Parliamentary Counsel (Non-SES); Geoscience Australia; Department of Social Services; Climate Change Authority; Australian Trade and Investment; and the Productivity Commission.

Negotiations between the APSC and the CPSU were drawn out and intense. The union initially chased a 20 per cent service-wide pay rise over three years. The 11.2 per cent increase that was eventually agreed on comprises a 4 per cent pay rise in year one, a 3.8 per cent increase in March 2025 and a 3.4 per cent rise in March 2026.

It was the APSC’s offer to pay all public servants the first increment of salary hikes from 21 December last year instead of the previous plan to start the increase from 14 March this year – if they signed on before the deadline – that got it over the line with the union.

The improvement was referred to as the “Commonwealth’s final offer”, and while the CPSU accepted it, some other smaller unions continued to oppose the deal.

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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