‘Wages restraint’ in new policy hurts workers and damages economy

The CPSU says a new Workplace Bargaining Policy for Commonwealth Workers confirms the Turnbull Government’s destructive attitude to decent wages and job security for Australian workers.

The Australian Public Service Commission released the Workplace Bargaining Policy overnight, which will apply to all Commonwealth agencies during the next round of enterprise bargaining.

The policy demands ‘wages restraint’, while capping pay rises at 2% a year, and also severely restricts the ability of Commonwealth agencies to engage in genuine negotiations with workers.

The wages policy is at odds with comments from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over the weekend that wages in Australia are not growing quickly enough.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “This bargaining policy is bad news, just like its recent predecessors that have done some much damage to Commonwealth agencies, the people that work in them and the critical services they provide. This policy continues a destructive approach that bars workers from genuinely bargaining for decent wages and conditions.”

“The Turnbull Government’s demand through this policy for ‘wages restraint’ for workers who’ve just endured a three-year wage freeze is obscene. Australia has a huge problem with stagnant wages growth and job insecurity. These issues are dragging on economic growth and hurting ordinary Australians, and this new bargaining policy shows the Turnbull Government is part of the problem and not the solution.”

“After four long years the previous round of bargaining still hasn’t finished for some Commonwealth workers. It’s been the most protracted and messy round of Commonwealth bargaining in 30 years, and yet this new policy shows they’ve learned absolutely nothing.”

“There are also new attacks on job security in Commonwealth agencies in this policy, including a clause designed to ensure the continued growth in wasteful and illogical spending on contractors and labour hire arrangements. There’s also explicit encouragement for individual arrangements outside of agreements that undermine enterprise bargaining and wages and conditions overall. It bears a frightening resemblance to the bad old days of WorkChoices and AWAs.”

“We have yet more evidence that our workplace rules are broken in this country. They need to be fixed so that all Australian workers, whether they work for Commonwealth agencies like Centrelink or the Tax Office or in any other sector of the economy, can get secure jobs that pay a decent wage and come with fair workplace rights and conditions.”