APS bargaining still broken as DHS ballot opens

The CPSU is urging staff in the largest Commonwealth agency, the Department of Human Services, to vote No to an enterprise agreement that continues to reflect the Government’s flawed public sector bargaining policy.

A ballot opens today for around 35,000 DHS staff in Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support to cast judgement on the unfair agreement proposed by management.

In September last year 83% of DHS staff voted No to an agreement that still includes deep cuts to family-friendly conditions and other rights and a sub-standard pay offer that does not compensate staff for a wage freeze that’s now stretched for more than 18 months.

DHS is the first major APS agency to head to a vote in 2016, with ballots in dozens of other agencies expected in coming weeks. A vote in Minister Michaelia Cash’s own agency, the Department of Employment, will commence next week despite management making no changes to the offer that was rejected by staff last year.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “We’re very confident that the mums and dads working in DHS will again vote to reject this diabolical deal, which is still proposing to strip any control these people have over where and when they work.”

“DHS staff work in highly scheduled environments in call centres and customer service, so without these conditions many would be unable to properly manage their work and family responsibilities. Management should be following the family-friendly example set by the private sector and recognising that child-care and other family commitments can’t be changed at the drop of a hat.”

“It appears there is at least some recognition in management that this dud deal isn’t going to be supported by DHS staff. That’s why this ballot has been repeatedly delayed since last year, and that’s why there’s been an unusual level of turnover on the department’s side of the bargaining table.”

“It’s time for Minister Michaelia Cash and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to realise that it’s well past the time when they should have fixed this mess, by changing the Government’s harsh and unreasonable bargaining policy to allow for fair outcomes.”