22 March 2023

Tell 'em they're dreamin'! Minister rejects CPSU's 20 per cent wage bid

| Chris Johnson
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CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly. Photo: Supplied.

Finance and Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher has outright rejected the Community and Public Sector Union’s bid for a 20 per cent pay hike over three years for all employees of the Australian Public Service.

You think?

The CPSU’s ambit claim is so extravagant that it’s hard to take the union seriously.

It has asked for a 9 per cent pay rise service-wide in the first year of the next APS enterprise agreement for wages and conditions.

That would be followed by a further 6 per cent pay rise in the second year of the agreement, then a 5 per cent top up in the third year.

Oh, and throw in a cost-of-living adjustment payment for any year when the Consumer Price Index exceeds the pay increase.

‘Ambitious’ has been the word bandied about since the CPSU made the bid last week.

READ MORE APS pay talks: Government releases ‘common conditions’, union seeks a lot more money

The union’s national secretary Melissa Donnelly used the word herself when talking about the claim.

‘Ridiculous’ would be a more accurate description.

The CPSU’s members would now be more than justified in asking exactly what their dues are being spent on if this is the best their union can come up with.

As non-starters go, this one shouldn’t have even bothered turning up to the game.

Ambit claims play a valid role in negotiations – but not laughable ambit claims.

We’d all like a 20 per cent pay rise.

We’d all like a 20-hour working week, 12 weeks of annual leave and a chauffeured ride to the office each day on the company tab.

But most people live (and work) in the real world.

In what reality is this union residing?

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Senator Gallagher has deemed the demand as being out of the question.

“We go in, both, with eyes open,” she said.

“It would be impossible to deliver that in terms of the budget we are facing.

“But we do want reasonable, affordable pay rises … They are doing what they need to do on behalf of their members, I understand that. We’ve got a job to do too, which is to make sure the budget is sustainable.

“We are coming from different standpoints. Hopefully, we can meet in the middle.”

The Minister was being diplomatically kind.

The CPSU has just handed the government enough ammunition to meet anywhere but in the middle.

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Senator Gallagher has signalled that the government doesn’t want a protracted bargaining process but that it does want to reach a decent wages and conditions outcome.

“We know people want good pay. We know they want their conditions signed off,” the Minister said.

“We’d like to get through it without too much conflict. But like all bargaining, I expect there will be some.”

The Australian Public Service Commission has issued a list of almost 50 proposed ‘common conditions’ it thinks discussions should canvass with employees, their unions and other representatives.

It’s a long list, yes. Some might say ambitious, even.

That’s probably an ambit claim too, but it’s certainly not a silly one.

For these negotiations to be productive, there need to be more serious players in the room – for the sake of a good outcome for all of the APS workforce.

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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