Union petitions PM to change “cruel and heartless” APS bargaining stance


The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has mounted a campaign to force Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to act on senate recommendations and end the divisive enterprise bargaining stand-off for tens for thousands of public servants.

The three-year Australian Public Service (APS) dispute over pay and working rights and conditions was the subject of a recent Senate inquiry, which found Mr Turnbull’s bargaining policy “cruel and heartless”, although Coalition senators wrote a dissenting report accusing the union of “unrealistic wage demands” and of refusing to compromise.

The Education and Employment References Committee released its report Siege of attrition: the Government’s APS Bargaining Policy last week with a list of recommendations including:

  • Public Service Minister Michaelia Cash should sit down with union representatives and agencies to reach “a reasonable conclusion” to the extended bargaining dispute
  • Savings accumulated from a three-year wage freeze should be used to compensate workers with higher pay offers
  • Staff affected by machinery of government changes, e.g. Department of Immigration and Border Protection, should not have their pay or working conditions diluted
  • Ending the prohibition on back pay or finding another way to compensate staff for the protracted dispute
  • Retaining access to family friendly conditions, including hours of work protections to support workers with caring responsibilities
  • Supporting domestic violence leave
  • The Australian Public Service Commission and the CPSU to establish a framework to deal with future enterprise bargaining well before agreements expire
  • Retaining rights to consultation and dispute resolution 

The report concluded: “This is shabby and appalling treatment of hard working and dedicated public servants across the APS. It stands as a shameful indictment of a cruel and callous government that it has turned its back on tens of thousands of its own workers on average and below average incomes and dismissed their legitimate claims with comments that are not only snide and insulting but also deliberately false and misleading.”

The CPSU is encouraging its members and the public to sign an online petition and to write, ring or visit their MP and to pressurise the Prime Minister into acting on the senate report and dropping the government’s hardline bargaining approach. 


Pic: CPSU website. 


There are two ballots under APS bargaining happening this week: Defence, which closes today (Tuesday December 6) with the results expected by tomorrow and the Australian Tax Office (ATO), which opens on Thursday and the results will probably be known a week later.

The Defence vote is impossible to predict with any accuracy. The last vote in May was so close, with a 55 per cent ‘no’ vote. The ATO vote, also in May, rejected the government’s offer by 72 per cent. The ballot for Australian Bureau of Statistics interviewers opens on December 13 and closes three days later.

Over at the 36,594-strong Department of Human Services, union members are striking over four days this month, which will include staff at call centres and customer service centres, and end on Friday December 16.

Meanwhile, the Fair Work Commission is currently arbitrating between the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the CPSU after the two sides failed to reach an agreement but with no clear end date in sight.

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