Staff in Turnbull's own Dept vote down dud deal

Staff in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s own department have for a second time rejected a harsh and unfair enterprise agreement, with the 68% No vote an emphatic refusal to accept Mr Turnbull’s unworkable public sector bargaining policy.

The ballot in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) closed on Friday, with 74% of staff participating and a clear majority unwilling to accept a deal that would have stripped important rights and conditions, either outright or by moving them into unenforceable policy, in return for a measly pay offer of 5.5% over three years.

The pay offer did not even match the 6% over three years, being offered across much of the APS, while slashing rights and conditions. Once again it offered staff no compensation for the more than 18 months they have gone without a pay rise.

In October last year 78% of PM&C staff voted No to an agreement that has only been marginally improved since, with the department unable to move on the key sticking points until the Government fixes public sector bargaining by changing its policy.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “Prime Minister and Cabinet is an agency that has a strong history and culture of backing Government bargaining policy, so two strong No votes in five months is a stunning rejection of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s public sector bargaining policy from his own staff.”

“Just as is the case across scores of agencies, many of the conditions that the mums and dads who work in PM&C are fighting to save are what makes it possible for them to balance work with their family commitments. They know, as Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd has admitted, that conditions taken out of agreements and moved into policy can be arbitrarily changed or removed down the track.”

“Many of the staff who have been shifted to PM&C from Indigenous Affairs were particularly unhappy with what was being put on the table. These are extremely committed and professional staff and they weren’t willing to lose their hard-fought conditions.”

“Tens of thousands of staff have voted to reject these dud deals, including the recent 79.5% No vote in the largest Commonwealth agency, the Department of Human Services. The message has been just as emphatic at other major agencies, with 85% voting No in the Tax Office and 91% No in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.”

“Other recent strong No votes have included the Bureau of Meteorology, the National Archives, the Electoral Commission. Even the small number of agencies where agreements have been accepted have mostly been line-ball results, showing the deep disquiet about this bargaining policy even from many of the staff who are voting yes.”

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has an opportunity to listen to the strong message that he has been given by the people who work in his own department. It’s well past time for him to abandon the Tony Abbott and Eric Abetz playbook and work with us to fix this mess with a fair and reasonable outcome.”

For comment: Simon Frazer 0409 493 290