APS Bargaining: How long have we been waiting?
It’s time for the Turnbull Government to listen
The Turnbull Government has just scraped back into office after the recent election but with a substantially reduced majority. So what does this mean for our Safeguard campaign in support of jobs, rights and pay?
The strong swing against the Turnbull Government means it must change the way it acts. It needs to listen to widespread community concerns, including on the outsourcing of the Medicare payments system, cuts to public services including DHS and CSIRO jobs. It also needs to listen to its own workforce’s concerns about Commonwealth bargaining.
Our plan to resolve bargaining
Our Safeguard campaign has helped secure significant bargaining wins such as getting many proposed conditions cuts taken off the table, and moves on leave, hours, pay and superannuation. While these developments have not been enough to resolve the dispute, the gap between what agencies were offering at the beginning and what is on the table now has narrowed.
With three quarters of Commonwealth staff still without new agreements after over two years, it’s clear the Turnbull Government’s old approach to bargaining has not worked. We have a multi-faceted plan to resolve bargaining and achieve decent outcomes for members. It is well past time for the Government and agencies to move away from unfair bargaining positions.
Reaching out to Government: Firstly, we will reach out to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash in the new and different post-election environment and ask them to work with us sensibly to resolve this long-running dispute.
Holding the Minister and Government to account: Secondly, we are preparing to take steps in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to ensure the Government and specifically Minister Cash is held accountable for not meeting her obligation to bargain in good faith. This includes the Minister refusing to meet with the CPSU, misrepresenting the union’s position and engaging in capricious conduct that undermines collective bargaining. This action would focus on several agencies and build on the successful FWC action we took before the election which confirmed that the Minister is a ‘bargaining representative’ and therefore obliged to bargain in good faith.
Strategic industrial action and voting No: Thirdly, we will recommence strategic protected industrial action in various agencies to draw public attention to this dispute and increase the pressure on Government to take real steps to fix this mess. Where bad agreements are put to staff, our members will continue asking all their co-workers to keep voting them down.
Taking our concerns to the Parliament and public: Finally, we will continue our effective community and political campaigning. In the lead up to the election delegations of CPSU members and delegates took their concerns about jobs, rights and services directly to MPs and Senators, in Canberra and around the country. This was as part of a very successful co-ordinated lobbying exercise. In coming weeks, we will be revisiting this approach to keep the pressure on the Government to fix this mess.
Tough choices ahead: While we continue to seek the outcomes set out in our 2015 Outcomes Position, we all need to recognise that getting a decent result won’t be easy and will involve some difficult choices - we're determined to fight as hard as we can to make these choices the best members can get.
Making a difference: The role of the union movement in general - and CPSU in particular - made a big difference to the election outcome. The on-the-ground campaigning by delegates and members during the election, having thousands of conversations in their communities, has shown the Government you can and do have an impact. Throughout the election we worked closely with other community groups to run effective campaigns on the outsourcing of the Medicare payments system, DHS cuts and CSIRO jobs. This action will continue post-election.