The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says its Services Australia members will escalate their industrial action after it rejected the latest pay offer from the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), despite its members voting to accept the offer by a slim margin.
In a 27 September statement, the CPSU said it had run a protected action ballot, that the industrial action it had already taken in Services Australia, including an Auxiliary Code Ban and a one-hour work stoppage would be escalated, and that it would be lodging applications for further protected action ballots in other agencies.
It said the revised pay offer put forward by the APSC was 11.2 per cent over three years, a 0.7 per cent increase over the first offer that was rejected by its members. That 11.2 per cent comprises 4 per cent in the first year, 3.8 per cent in the second year and 3.4 per cent in the third year.
The CPSU said that following extensive consultation with its 15,000 members and a member poll, a slim margin of 51.9 per cent of its members voted to accept the Government’s offer versus 48.1 per cent to reject it. CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly said the margin isn’t clear enough for the union to recommend its members support the offer.
“There is strong support for the conditions package that has been negotiated, including the industry-leading working-from-home rights, increases to paid parental leave, the reintroduction of job security provisions and increased casual loading rates,” she said.
“But in an environment where every APS worker is feeling extreme cost-of-living pressures, the current pay offer just doesn’t cut it. The government can and should do better – and that means making an offer that has clear support from employees.
“The test for the Albanese Government as an employer isn’t just being better than the Coalition Government, it is to be a model employer – a goal they set for themselves,” Ms Donnelly added.
“As a union, we will now escalate our campaign across the APS and fight for an improved outcome on pay. This will include escalated industrial action in Services Australia and the lodgement of applications for protected action ballots in other agencies.”
The CPSU had previously demanded a 20 per cent pay increase over three years and has been involved in protracted negotiations since. The union had also demanded improved conditions, including APS pay equity, backpay where employees face a delay in receiving any new pay rise, and a common pay rise date that brings agencies and departments into line with each other.
APSC chief negotiator Peter Riordan had previously said that no employee would be disadvantaged under the agreed-upon arrangements and said broad support had already been reached on 35 conditions.
In a brief statement late on 27 September, Minister for the Public Service Senator Katy Gallagher said the outcome of the CPSU ballot showed a majority position to support the Government’s offer.
“We have bargained in good faith and worked hard to improve wages and conditions for public servants after a decade of neglect under the former government,” she said.
“The government looks forward to finalising the agreements as soon as possible.”