30 November 2023

CPSU members vote to accept ‘final’ APS wage offer

| Andrew McLaughlin
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CPSU members holding banners

Two-thirds of the 16,000 CPSU members who voted have approved the Commonwealth’s “final” APS-wide pay offer. Photo: CPSU.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members of the Australian Public Service (APS) have voted with a two-thirds majority to accept the latest and “final” APS-wide pay and conditions package.

Despite the union’s breakaway Members United group calling for any decision on the offer to be delayed until the union’s own leadership is finalised, the CPSU endorsed the majority vote, saying it was one that “members can and should be proud of”.

The Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) September pay offer of 11.2 per cent over three years was boosted last week when it offered to pay all public servants the first increment of salary hikes dated from 21 December this year instead of the previous plan to start the increase from 14 March 2024.

While the 11.2 per cent increase over three years – comprising 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 – remains the same, by bringing the start date forward APS employees will receive an extra 12 weeks of pay as a one-off payment. This improvement was referred to as the “Commonwealth’s final offer”.

In a statement this afternoon (30 November), the CPSU claims “sharp industrial escalation from the union pushed the government to come back to the table offering an additional payment to employees that is the equivalent of 0.92 per cent of an employee’s salary”.

It said service-wide bargaining “has delivered significant progress on workers’ pay and conditions in one fell swoop”.

READ ALSO Breakthrough on APS wages standoff may provide Christmas bonus

Apart from the wage increase, APS employees will also receive the following improvement to conditions and benefits, all of which will be included in all APS agency Enterprise Agreements:

  • Negotiated pay outcomes instead of service-wide caps on pay and conditions.
  • Flexible work and working from home rights.
  • Job security protections, including 25 per cent casual loading and measures to ensure ongoing employment is the usual form of employment.
  • Consultation rights and an APS consultative committee.
  • 18 weeks paid leave for a primary carer and eight weeks paid parental leave for secondary carers, rising in increments to 18 weeks over the life of the enterprise agreement.
  • Clear representation rights, delegates’ rights, Respect@Work protections, and a dispute procedure.
  • Support for First Nations employees.
  • Uncapped paid Family and Domestic Violence leave, three days paid cultural leave, emergency services leave, and disaster support.
  • Measures to support integrity in the APS so something like Robodebt never happens again.
  • Workload reviews and EL TOIL (Executive-level time off in lieu) were established across the APS.

The union says more than 16,000 CPSU members voted in the union’s membership poll.

READ ALSO Breakaway group calls for CPSU caretaker conventions to kick in

CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly said: “In just one round of service-wide bargaining, we have secured industry-leading conditions, an 11.2 per cent pay rise with back pay, a considerable lump sum payment at sign-on, no cuts to existing conditions, and no delays.

“Our members entered this process prepared to fight for improvements to their pay and conditions, and that is what they have done.

“While there have been mixed views on pay throughout the process, we have shifted the government’s position twice without delaying bargaining outcomes or sacrificing conditions.

“I’d like to acknowledge those CPSU members who took industrial action throughout the course of this bargain. From overtime and work bans through to 1 hour, 2 hour and full-day strikes – every action played its part in creating an APS-wide package that can now improve APS employees’ working lives.

“This has delivered improvements to a wide range of members’ pay and conditions that would never have been achieved had we still been bargaining agency-by-agency,” she added.

“Of particular note is the progress that has been made on pay equity. A fragmented and divided APS has seen pay equity blow out, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and those working in our cultural institutions suffering the most.”

Minister for the Public Service Senator Katy Gallagher said the government had delivered on its commitment to conduct genuine negotiations in APS-wide bargaining to reduce the fragmentation in pay and conditions and establish the APS as a model employer.

“Today’s CPSU members ballot shows overwhelming support for the government’s position on public service wages and conditions,” she said.

“This package is a significant improvement in pay and conditions for public servants.”

Original Article published by Andrew McLaughlin on Riotact.

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