3 November 2023

CPSU polling members and hoping for a new wages offer

| Chris Johnson
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CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly has been ramping up the fight over APS wages. Photo: File.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has been polling its members in anticipation of another revised wage offer from the Federal Government in the current round of workplace bargaining.

But Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher has ruled out coming back to the table with a further increased offer, saying the government has been “more than generous”.

The Australian Public Service Commission has offered an 11.2 per cent APS-wide pay rise over three years, revised up from an earlier offer of 10.5 per cent.

Both offers were rejected by the union, although a slim majority of the CPSU’s membership voted to accept the 11.2 per cent offer.

In a survey emailed to CPSU’s APS members in the last week of October seen by Region, questions were asked about the government’s approach to APS wages.

Under the title of “Do you want to see government improve pay now so that we can vote on agreements without delay?”, the survey was framed as though the union was anticipating a further wage offer.

READ ALSO CPSU leadership in fight for APS wages and its own survival

“In late September, your CPSU bargaining team told government and the APSC that while there is strong support for the conditions package negotiated, members want to see movement on pay,” the poll’s preface stated.

“The clock is ticking. The time has come for government to act. As we get closer to the end of the year, we need quick action.

“CPSU members have moved quickly to build pressure on the government to shift on pay through workplace activities, strategic protected industrial action, messages to government, and in the media.

“This new poll is about adding to that pressure. Have your say now.”

The poll’s first question, asking respondents to agree or disagree was: “I want to see government improve pay now so that we can vote on agreements without delay.”

The poll closed on the day the ballot opened for the CPSU’s national executive elections, which are this year being strongly contested by members of a grassroots splinter group called Members United.

The Members United team wants the CPSU to go harder against the government, but believes the union’s affiliation with the Australian Labor Party is compromising that.

CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly has, however, ramped up the tough talk against the government and instigated rolling strikes across a number of federal agencies.

“Our members have been clear from the beginning – they want to see this round of bargaining deliver a decent pay rise without any delays,” she said.

“But the Albanese Labor government must do better on pay.

“It’s time to get on with the job of giving APS workers the long overdue decent pay rise they need and deserve.”

READ ALSO We’ll take the wages offer direct to staff for a vote if we have to, says Minister

One CPSU member described the member survey sent out as a ‘fake poll’ anticipating a renewed government offer.

The poll closed on 1 November.

“I’m not running for Members United but I do want to see my union do better,” they said.

“The union leadership will use the results of this poll to lay the foundation for accepting what is likely to be another poor offer.

“In other words, attempting to prime or manufacture consent for accepting the offer before it’s even been made.”

Senator Gallagher told Region last week there would be no further revised offer given to the union.

The government could even consider taking the current offer directly to the APS workforce for a vote, she said.

“No. I revised the offer in the terms of their [CPSU] original feedback. That offer was actually voted up by their membership. There’s a little bit more work to do, obviously, from their point of view,” the Minister said.

“We want to be a model employer, we want to work with the unions, but ultimately, we want to be able to give staff a pay rise… I think the government’s been more than generous.

“We can put the offer to the APS staff … not the preferred way of doing things … but I don’t want to see people not getting their pay rises in March either.”

The CPSU leadership ballot opened on Wednesday (1 November) and closes at 10 am (AEDT) on Wednesday 6 December.

The union’s industrial action continues this week, with Agriculture Department meat inspectors and vets participating in a one-hour work stoppage and refusing to work overtime.

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William Teach5:48 pm 08 Nov 23

The proposed EBA isn’t generous at all: all I get out of it apart from a below-CPI pay rise (let alone the cost of living) is a few extra days of sick leave that I probably won’t use (most people leave the APS with a large balance as it is) and some existing policies and practices moved into the contract (which just means they’re promising not to make conditions worse). Everything else is irrelevant or inapplicable to me, and the same is true of most of my colleagues.

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