Courts staff vote 90% No to insultingly poor proposal

Federal, Family and Federal Circuit Courts staff have emphatically rejected a proposed enterprise agreement that fell far short of the deals being accepted in other Commonwealth agencies.

A stunning 90% of people voted No out of the 81% of eligible staff who cast a ballot. It is one of the largest margins for a No vote during the past three years of Commonwealth bargaining.

Staff were voting on a single Federal Courts agreement as a result of the merger of the entities a year ago.

CPSU Deputy Secretary Melissa Donnelly said: “A no vote of this size after more than three years shows just how horrendous this proposed agreement was. This is a disaster for Courts bosses and it’s now time for them to wake up and start treating their hard-working staff with respect.”

“This proposal was an absolute insult to staff, epitomised by the fact they were offering just half the meagre pay rise allowed by the Commonwealth bargaining policy. It beggars belief on top of a three-year plus wage freeze and a longer working week being pushed for staff on the previous Federal Court agreement. There were also a raft of harsh cuts to rights and conditions around things like consultation.”

“We’ve had a run of Yes votes in other agencies in recent weeks – including Tax, Defence, Agriculture, CSIRO and Prime Minister and Cabinet – because they’ve done what they could on pay while recognising the core issue for staff is protecting hard-fought rights and conditions.”

“Courts bosses need to look around and see what’s working in these other agencies. This result makes it abundantly clear that they can’t just ride on the coat-tails of successful ballots elsewhere when what they’re pushing on staff is so out-of-step with what’s even halfway reasonable.”

“Recent movement by agencies on key sticking points and subsequent Yes votes had given us some optimism that public sector bargaining may finally be headed towards a resolution. But today’s result is a sobering reminder that there will be no end to this dispute until stand-out agencies such as the Courts and the Department of Human Services get the message on retaining rights and conditions.”