The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is optimistic that APS bargaining on pay equity, which commences this week, could make real progress toward achieving pay equity across the Australian Public Service (APS).

CPSU analysis of the minimum and maximum pay at each classification level across 109 APS agencies, revealed pay disparities of up to $60,000. Some APS employees are being paid up to 38% less than their peers at the same classification level due to existing fragmented pay arrangements across the APS.

Pay inequity hits hardest in agencies with high proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.

For example, the average pay for an APS4 is $76,562, but someone who is an APS4 working for Aboriginal Hostels earns $65,994. And the average pay for an APS5 is $84,225, but an employee who is an APS5 working at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies is paid $75,696.

This significant pay inequity is unfair, further entrenches systemic inequality, reflects poorly on the government as an employer, and limits employees’ ability to move between departments and agencies.

Resolving the issue of pay inequity across the Australian Public Service is a complex task that will take time, but the CPSU is confident that significant progress can be made in this round of service-wide negotiations.

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) is set to table the Commonwealth’s first position to address pay fragmentation across the APS on Tuesday 30th May.

Quote from an Aboriginal Hostels Limited Employee, APS4, salary is $67,000:

“I work at the lowest paid agency and it's a joke trying to make ends meets just to pay my bills and most of the time I need to do that on credit card then have to try to pay it off... I often have to borrow money from friends just to survive. I hear people commenting on overpaid public servants which is such crap. I'm an APS4 and I go home and cry because I feel like a failure that I can't provide properly for myself and my family.

Quote from an Aboriginal Hostels Limited Employee, APS 3, salary is between $61,000 and $64,000:

“We are the lowest paid government employees but have a huge responsibility. As APS 3 we manage, mentor and supervise staff, we have duty of care to over 40 residents - numerous visitors/stakeholders to our facilities and operate and oversee million-dollar facilities.”

Quotes attributable to Melissa Donnelly, CPSU National Secretary:

“Achieving pay equity across the APS is not a quick or simple task, but one that must be prioiritised in this round of bargaining.

“It will take time to undo inequities that have grown for more than 20 years, but significant progress must be made this year.

“APS employees working in agencies like AIATSIS, Aboriginal Hostels Limited, our National Collecting Institutions, and our courts are extremely dedicated and undertake highly skilled work, yet the legacy of the past twenty years of APS bargaining is that they’ve been left behind their colleagues.

"In particular it is deeply concerning that agencies with more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff are disproportionately affected by pay inequity.

"Pay inequity in the APS is not just a matter of numbers, it is a reflection of systemic injustice and inequality, and it must be fixed.

“The Albanese Labor Government, as an aspiring model employer, has a very real and urgent responsibility to address this.

Media contact: Tori McGregor 0429 000 620