This year has been an eventful one, and the last few weeks have been no exception.
Here are the latest updates:
1. Budget 2020/21: reduction to DSS staff numbers. Does this mean job cuts? The recent Federal Budget papers flag a reduction of 212 ASL at DSS in the current financial year. This concerns CPSU immensely and we met with DSS HR 8/10/20. DSS was not able to give us any information about this issue, but committed to providing further information once it had been considered by EMG. Your union reps will be following this up. At our meeting with HR we suggested it would be sensible for DSS to communicate with all staff, as soon as possible, to let people know the ramifications of this cut to staffing numbers and reassure anyone who may be worried.
2. DSS still out of step on home-based work: across the Public Service, agencies of all sizes have been seeing the benefits of giving staff more choices on how and where they complete their work. We all know that different people work and feel better in different environments, and you can see some comparisons between some key agencies if you scroll down on this page. Unfortunately, DSS has advised that it does not intend to change its out-dated and inadequate Home-Based Work Policy. The department is squandering an opportunity to improve employees’ access to Working From Home flexibility. It has effectively shelved the DSS-collected feedback from staff on your experience of working from home, including establishing a Home Based Work trial, because EMG did not agree to proceed with the trial. Some minor clarifications around DSS’ current policy on informal use of home based work will be provided in a new DSS Flexible Working Arrangements Policy, but the policy is yet to be published on the HR Policies STAFFnet page.
Note: If you are a member whose Temporary Home-Based Work Arrangement will not be renewed at the end of this month, remember that a Delegate and/or the CPSU Member Service Centre are available to help you navigate what is possible under the current Home-Based Work policy and help construct the best application for an ongoing arrangement that you can, given the circumstances.
3. RAO members doing great work: The Research Administrative Officers (RAOs) work on the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children. This is hugely important work and the expertise of the RAOs has meant that the retention rate of the survey is practically unheard of compared to other studies of similar groups around the world. Recently, RAOs have been working together to provide feedback to DSS management on the arrangements around how they do their work that will not only help make sure they are treated fairly but also help protect the study itself. When we work together, we can make a big difference to the things that we care about most.
4. Your amazing HSRs are still hard at it: DSS has a great cohort of really engaged and effective HSRs, many of whom are CPSU members and most of whom would not have expected to be dealing with such a high stakes and intense issue as keeping DSS workplaces COVID-safe when they signed up for the role. We would like to encourage everyone not only to continue using the HSR network to raise your WHS concerns, but also to support your colleagues who are working really hard representing you as an HSR during this difficult time.
5. Remember to take advantage of our collective bargaining strength: it’s been a difficult year financially for a lot of us and many people may have close family who are out of work or on very reduced hours. Don’t forget that one of the ways CPSU members have been able to use our collective strength is by negotiating for things like discounts on groceries and petrol, as well as larger more irregular purchases. You can access the portal here to explore how you might be able to benefit.