Why vote NO?
After years of staff productivity improvements, increasing and more complex workloads, fewer staff and with no pay rise since December 2013, TEQSA is inviting its employees to approve a sub-standard and regressive enterprise agreement which includes:
No guarantee that the current 15.4% employer contribution to our superannuation will be maintained
In contrast, employees of the Department of Education and Training are guaranteed super at 15.4% but TEQSA employees’ super can be cut at any time if the Minister for Finance chooses. Disappointingly, TEQSA did not take up the CPSU’s proposal that TEQSA approach the Minister for Education and Training to ask his support for the same superannuation guarantee and protections for TEQSA staff as the Minister’s own Department gave its staff in their agreement – (see Department of Education and Training Enterprise Agreement 2016 – 2019 clause 63: The department will provide employer superannuation contributions to members of the PSSap of no less than 15.4% fortnightly contribution salary.)
No recognition that staff have endured 36 months with no pay rise as the cost of living has risen
TEQSA has declined to offer any form of recompense in recognition of staff’s patience, hard work and professional approach to serving the public over this period.
Removal of Employee Consultation Rights
Our current agreement at clause 14 requires management to consult on “TEQSA policies, guidelines or other corporate documents” and establishes a staff Consultative Committee with representatives of staff and CPSU representatives.
The proposed agreement removes clause 14 entirely and allows management alone to decide on what and with whom it consults
Management can change its consultation policy at any time. For example, management could decide to introduce a new performance management and staff promotion policy and there would be no requirement for it to consult staff before implementing it.
Removal of “Miscellaneous Leave” rights
The current agreement allows staff to access leave for a range of purposes not covered by personal or annual leave - the proposed agreement strips these rights from the agreement and turns them into “policy” which can be changed at any time without consultation with staff
Removal of Workplace Delegates and Bargaining Representatives rights
The current agreement requires TEQSA to “acknowledge and respect the legitimate role that workplace delegates and bargaining representatives play” and to “facilitate the activities of delegates and representatives”(clause 37)
The proposed agreement removes these rights entirely – workplace delegates and representatives will have no right to email members, use the internet to consult with employees, use meeting rooms or to carry out their representative roles in “paid time”.
In simple terms, this agreement is a cut to our existing conditions. It replaces legally enforceable rights with “policy” documents which can be changed at any time and provide no protection or security to employees. It remains a package that relies on weakening our enforceable rights and offers a pay proposal with no recognition of the 3 years without a pay rise.
What happens to rights that are removed from enterprise agreements?
- Rights will not be legally enforceable. Even if TEQSA claims to be putting rights and conditions in to policy, policy is not legally enforceable and the union can no longer make sure employees can access those rights.
- Policy gives no protection. Policies can be changed at any time without consultation and without employees’ permission. We have seen TEQSA adopt the Government’s Bargaining Policy. There is no reason to believe it would not follow any future Government policy affecting its employees.
- Rights and conditions gone forever. Once rights and conditions are removed from agreements, they are very difficult to win back.
The Government’s Bargaining Policy
This EA is a slight improvement on the first offers seen by staff across the APS in 2015, but it remains a package that relies on weakening our enforceable rights and offers a pay proposal with no recognition of the 3 years without a pay rise.
The Government, through the APSC approval process, are continuing to require all management bargaining teams to ‘streamline’ agreements and remove any ‘restrictive workplace practices’.
Here is how a witness to the recent Senate Inquiry into the Government’s Bargaining Policy described the effect of the policy on the staff of the Department of Human Services (Centrelink etc.):
These cuts are unacceptable, and will continue to be unacceptable, to a workforce composed of average income earners with mortgages to pay, families to feed, and a need for workplace conditions that allow them to balance the two. The three years they have spent without any pay increase is particularly galling when compared with the Department Secretary, Kathryn Campbell, whose pay has risen by 7.5 per cent (just under $50 000) since 2013.4 (see Siege of attrition: the Government's APS Bargaining Policy)
By Voting NO, you will continue to benefit from the further positive shifts in bargaining we are gaining from the Government and the APSC on top of those achieved so far.