19 December 2023

First three APS agencies support workplace deals, others front industrial action

| Chris Johnson
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Vote being placed in ballot box

Public servants in three APS agencies have voted yes to workplace agreements. Photo: File.

Employees across three Australian Public Service agencies have voted yes on their enterprise agreements, which include APS-wide pay and conditions, and agency-level matters.

Those agencies are the Department of Health and Aged Care; the Department of Finance; and the National Health Funding Body (NHFB).

More than 7900 staff are in those agencies, with 100 per cent of the NHFB employees voting to support the new agreement.

Results came in late on Friday (15 December).

The NHFB was the first APS enterprise agreement voted on following this round of workplace bargaining.

In the Health Department, 94.4 per cent of voting employees supported their agreement, but only 76.8 per cent of the agency’s staff participated in the vote.

The Department of Finance had similar results, with a 93.4 per cent supporting vote from a 76 per cent participation rate.

All three enterprise agreements will now go to the Fair Work Commission for approval before they come into effect.

“This is a positive outcome, and we look forward to continuing this momentum in the first quarter of 2024 to ensure pay increases for all APS employees are not delayed,” the Australian Public Service Commission said in a statement.

The results of ballots held at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of the Treasury should be known on Monday (18 December).

And employees across a further two APS agencies are expected to complete a vote on their enterprise agreements before Christmas, with all remaining agencies to conduct their employee votes early in the new year.

But while the Community and Public Sector Union may have endorsed the government’s service-wide pay offer, it hasn’t stopped industrial action across some APS agencies.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission was the latest target, with synchronised one-hour strikes over workplace conditions.

The CPSU and other employee bargaining representatives have joined forces to strive for improved conditions at the ACCC and the Australian Energy Regulator.

Under fire from within and amid its own national executive elections, the CPSU recently backed the Australian Public Service Commission’s revised wages offer of an 11.2 per cent increase over three years plus a one-off sign-on bonus payment.

After initially rejecting the government’s offer, industrial escalation pushed the government to come back to the table offering an additional payment that is the equivalent of 0.92 per cent of an employee’s salary.

More than 16,000 CPSU members voted in the union’s membership poll on the APS-wide package, with 67.5 per cent supporting it.

READ ALSO Secretary of PM&C foresees a Back to the Future for the APS

“Our members entered this process prepared to fight for improvements to their pay and conditions, and that is what they have done,” CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly said in accepting the deal.

“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.”

Other unions and employee representatives, however, have not been so quick to support the offer.

The CPSU is now highlighting in the agency-specific agreements conditions rather than wages.

The ACCC has become a clear target, with the union advising its members to only work standard hours.

“Members may accept overtime work if every hour above 37.05 is accounted for with overtime pay,” the union said in a statement.

“Members will continue to take leave as required, including the use of pre-accrued flex leave or TOIL [time off in lieu].”

The Australian Services Union remains against the offer and is exploring legal options with the FWC for a better pay outcome for Australian Taxation Office employees.

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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