Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has attacked the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) for engaging in legal and political stunts and accused it of being “self-serving” and “needlessly delaying” new enterprise bargaining agreements for around 100,000 APS workers.
The CPSU has taken the Minister to the Fair Work Commission to accuse her of not conducting the APS bargaining process in good faith. The accusation partly rests on whether Cash is legally defined as a ‘bargaining agent’ in the wage negotiation process.
While the union insists that she is agent, the government claims that individual agencies, not the Minister, are the only bargaining representatives responsible for negotiating working conditions, rights and pay with their staff while the government sets the bargaining framework.
Cash maintains the government will not change its stance or its offer of a wage increase of up to 2 per cent per year as the process drags along well into its third year, with around three-quarters of Commonwealth public servants waiting for a pay rise.
The government’s statement said the union should accept this ‘reality’ and finalise dozens of new enterprise agreements that it had “needlessly delayed for the past two years” while it “engaged in legal and political stunts.”
Cash called the CPSU self-serving and said the government wanted to get agreements signed as soon as possible.
“Rather than concocting various stunts which unnecessarily delay public servants receiving pay rises, the CPSU would better serve their members by ensuring they receive the additional wages to which they are entitled and for which the Australian taxpayer can afford,” Cash said.
“The CPSU is only focused on organising endless industrial action and disseminating misleading information rather than facilitating timely and reasonable pay rises for the public servants they purport to represent.”
She said that 54 Commonwealth agencies had finalised agreements and a more were waiting for approval by the Australian Public Service Commission and would soon be voted on by staff.
However, many of the larger agencies such as Human Services and Defence are holding out.
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