Malcolm Turnbull making life harder for working parents

The CPSU has called on the Turnbull Government to abandon its double standards and contradictory approach to work and family issues.

The union has watched with growing concern as the Government plays lip service to the issue while continuing its push to strip essential family-friendly workplace rights and conditions across the Australian Public Service.

While the Government has been rightly pushing for equal treatment of female athletes and has allowed breast-feeding in Parliament, under its restrictive and unfair APS bargaining policy, agencies are still obliged to remove from agreements a range of existing rights and conditions which give working parents and carers some certainty over their work location and their hours.

This week a group of CPSU delegates and officials have come to Canberra to lobby politicians about the need to change the unfair bargaining policy.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “The Prime Minister often talks about the need to increase the participation of the women in the workforce, but his own bargaining policy seeks to restrict the flexible work conditions that enable public sector parents to work and meet their family responsibilities.”

“We’ve had strong feedback from our members that this is one of the biggest objections to the Government’s approach to public sector bargaining. That includes the almost 80% of DHS workers who last week voted for the second time to reject a harsh and unreasonable agreement.”

“Under the current agreements, staff and their managers negotiate sensible and predictable arrangements that recognise real-world challenges like finding and securing appropriate childcare, but the Government’s trying to strip that kind of protection out of agreements and leave workers at the mercy of their managers’ discretion.”

“As any worker with small kids knows, once you get a place in a good childcare centre you hang onto it tightly. But thousands of working parents in places like Centrelink and Medicare are now worried their childcare arrangements will be thrown into chaos because their employer wants the right to unilaterality change where and when they work, every month.”

“As one member put it, ‘I can’t renegotiate the hours of the childcare centre. I have to pick my kids up at 3pm, because if I don’t no one else will.’”

“At DHS 73% of the workforce are women, many working part-time, and a significant number of them have caring responsibilities for children and/or elderly parents.”

“By removing their right to have some control over where, when and for how long they work, the Government will drive many of them from the workforce. They will be forced to quit their jobs and when they go they’ll be taking their skills and experience with them, leaving more gaps in an already stretched workforce.”

“It is telling that smart and modern employers like the ANZ and Telstra are winning awards for their flexible female workforce participation practises, while the Commonwealth Governments is going backwards fast.

At at glance

The Turnbull Government’s agenda is a wholesale attack on the employment conditions DHS workers need to manage their caring responsibilities:

  • There will no longer be a requirement to “genuinely negotiate” and “agree” changes to a staff member’s ordinary working hours
  • A staff member’s pattern of hours can be changed at any time, and they can be directed to work any hours between 7am and 7pm
  • Workers will no longer be able to refuse overtime for caring reasons and the requirement to provide reasonable notice of the requirement to work overtime has been removed
  • Reduced Personal leave and access to it
  • Cutting school holidays carers allowance
  • No consultation on workplace change.

FOR COMMENT: Simon Frazer | Media Adviser | 0409 493 290