Public servants could get a pay rise in March – backdated to before Christmas – if they accept a gesture from the Federal Government to bring forward by 12 weeks the proposed wage increase schedule.
And the main union representing the Australian Public Service (APS) workforce is recommending it be accepted.
Following months of deadlock over APS wages and a stall of workplace bargaining, the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has offered to pay all public servants the first increment of salary hikes dated from 21 December this year.
The schedule was previously planned for the year one pay increase to kick in from 14 March 2024.
The overall offer of an 11.2 per cent increase over three years remains the same, with this improvement being referred to as the “Commonwealth’s final offer”.
That offer would see a 4 per cent pay rise in year one, followed by a 3.8 per cent increase in March 2025 and 3.4 per cent rise in March 2026.
The scheduled dates for the second and third increments remain the same.
Employees would only get this bonus if their agency’s enterprise agreement was finalised and given to them for consideration by 14 March 2024. It then must receive a successful vote.
Due to the expected timing of ballots, the extra 12 weeks of pay would be provided as a one-off payment.
APSC chief negotiator Peter Riordan said the offer had been made to conclude APS-wide bargaining.
“By bringing forward the year one pay increase by 12 weeks, employees now have the opportunity to get an additional payment in their pockets after a successful vote on an agency’s enterprise agreement,” he said.
“On top of the improved pay offer, we’ve achieved agreement on over 50 common conditions for APS employees, including enhancements to flexible working arrangements and parental leave. This represents a great outcome for employees.
“The contributions from all bargaining parties to respectfully engage in good faith has resulted in significant enhancements for APS employees, and paves the way for improvements into the future.
“This offer represents the Commonwealth’s third and final improvement to pay. This will conclude the APS-wide bargaining process, and APS employees can now directly have their say on this work when it’s time to vote on their agency’s enterprise agreement.”
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is taking credit for securing the slightly improved offer and will now run a member poll to give all its members in the APS the opportunity to vote on the revised package.
The union’s poll will close at midday on Thursday 30 November.
CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly said the government’s new offer equated to an additional 0.92 per cent of an employee’s salary.
“The CPSU has been able to negotiate an improved pay deal for APS employees, without losing any negotiated conditions or delaying pay rises,” Ms Donnelly said.
“In our last membership poll, 52 per cent of members supported the package put forward by the government with feedback revealing that while members were happy with the conditions that had been negotiated, they thought the government could do better on pay.
“We had a narrow window to fight for a better pay deal where we would not be delaying bargaining outcomes, and we made the most of it.
“CPSU members trusted us to reject this offer and since then have voted up protected action ballots, gone on strike and stood in solidarity with their colleagues taking industrial action across the APS.”
Ms Donnelly said CPSU members demanded more from the government and together they have secured more.
“This is a package that will deliver APS employees strong, industry-leading conditions, improved pay and a financial boost without delay.
“The union recommends the overall package, noting it will deliver strong conditions and improved pay without delays.”
Mr Riordan wrote to the workforce on Thursday to outline the tweaked offer and to stress APS-wide bargaining was officially concluded.
Agency-level bargaining will continue, with many agencies close to concluding.