The CPSU recently conducted an online survey of around 1,000 workplace delegates across the APS to gain a better insight into the pressure caused by recent budget cuts.
The survey revealed major problems for staff and customers alike including unmanageable work loads, declining work standards, increased delays and dangerous levels of customer frustration and aggression in frontline service delivery areas.
Late last year the Government announced a program of deep cuts to public spending as part of the Mid Year Economic Forecast and Outlook (MYEFO), including a $700 million reduction to capital expenditure and a one-off increase in the ‘efficiency dividend’ from 1.5% to 4%. All up these measures will take $2.2 billion out of the public sector, putting pressure on essential jobs and services.
Where the axe has fallen:
So far staff reductions or voluntary redundancies have been announced in a range of agencies including: Human Services; Customs; Treasury; Veterans Affairs; Climate Change; Bureau of Statistics; Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Resources, Energy and Tourism. Looking ahead to the May Budget the CPSU is concerned more jobs and services will be lost as the Government strives to deliver a surplus at any cost.
A strong voice:
Based on the survey results, the CPSU has stepped up efforts to protect essential jobs and services. Over recent weeks CPSU delegates and officials have put our concerns directly to many Government Ministers and local MPs. We have also prepared formal submissions to the Government and made many strong media statements about the damage continual cuts are doing.
CPSU delegates show support:
At the same time, CPSU delegates have been providing direct workplace support to union members in agencies facing redundancy and/or redeployment. Working with members and management, our focus has been on trying to ensure:
no forced redundancies
all staff are properly consulted about changes that effect them
‘pain’ is shared equally and SES are not immune from cuts
all agencies explore sensible efficiency measures before cutting jobs
staff have access to redeployment within agencies or across the service
all enterprise agreement rights and entitlements are respected
all voluntary redundancy processes are transparent and fair
workloads are reasonable and service standards are adjusted to match staffing levels.
Action on redeployment:
Following strong representation from the CPSU earlier in the year, the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has issued a new and improved APS Redeployment policy which ensures employees who want to be redeployed to another agency because of staff cuts, can now do so.
Care about jobs and services? Join the CPSU today:
Throughout this difficult process, CPSU delegates are working hard to ensure union members are properly consulted and their rights and entitlements are respected. CPSU delegates and officials are also putting union members’ concerns directly to the Government, agencies and the media. If you are not yet a CPSU member, now is great time join. Talk to your delegate, call 1300 137 636 or JOIN ONLINE NOW. If you are already a member, please share this bulletin with your workmates.
Axe falling on jobs, not 'wasteful' spending:
In a statement accompanying the release of MYEFO, Finance Minister Penny Wong outlined a list of savings measures agencies should pursue before considering cutting jobs. This included reducing spending on contractors, travel, hospitality, advertising, printing and training. However the results of our survey indicate that many agencies have pushed ahead with job cuts before seeking savings in non-staffing areas. The CPSU will continue to vigorously pursue this issue with the Government and agencies.
Survey results at a glance
Over the past six months, how have things changed in your workplace?
increased workloads and targets: 78.9%
increased customer waiting times: 58.5%
reduction in quality/cutting corners: 61.2%
problems accessing leave: 43.4%
an increase in unplanned leave: 52.3%
Over the past six months, how have staffing levels changed?
call for voluntary redundancies: 24.3
not filling vacant positions: 74%
reduction in SES numbers: 12.7%
staff doing duties they’re not trained in: 46.8%
cutting temps and contractors: 44.1%
Over the past six months, have you (*DHS only) observed and/or experienced an increase in: