Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 403. Updated Tuesday, 01 April 2014

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Tough new bargaining framework for PS

A new policy for conducting enterprise bargaining in the Australian Public Service has been announced by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Senator Eric Abetz.

The new policy replaces the Australian Public Service Bargaining Framework and the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework.

Senator Abetz said the policy applied to all Australian Public Service (APS) Agencies and non-APS Agencies, including Government Business Enterprises and to staff employed by the Parliamentary Departments and under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984.

He said the Australian Defence Force was not covered by the policy.

Senator Abetz said this new framework was designed to enable taxpayers to receive greater value for money.

"Public Service conditions must not only be in line with community expectations, but they must be affordable and sustainable," he said.

The previous Government's move towards APS wide bargaining is to be reversed.

Pay rises must be affordable

According to the policy, Agency heads are responsible for managing workplace relations matters in their Agency, including enterprise bargaining, in a manner consistent with relevant legislation, this policy and other relevant Government policies.

The policy said terms and conditions of employment for non-Senior Executive Service employees should be set out in enterprise agreements at the APS Agency level and enterprise agreements should be at least three years' duration.

In regards to affordability and funding, the policy stated that improvements in pay and conditions were to be funded from within existing budgets, without the redirection of program funding.

According to the policy, remuneration increases should apply prospectively and not be backdated.

It also said in recognition that the new Government scheme would apply to all Commonwealth Agencies, Agencies should not seek to vary current paid parental leave entitlements, pending commencement of the new scheme.

The policy stated Agencies must not offer a proposed remuneration increase until the Australian Public Service Commissioner was satisfied that it was affordable and offset by genuine productivity gains, in consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Finance.

It said before making any wages offer, an Agency head must be satisfied that the proposed remuneration increases were affordable from within existing and known future budget allocations.

According to the policy, where the Department of Finance and/or the APSC indicated that it considered an Agency's proposed workplace arrangement as not affordable, the Agency must revise the proposal to ensure it was affordable.

It also said the Ministers' approval of the agreement must be received before the agreement was put to a vote of employees.

The new bargaining framework can be viewed at this PS News link.

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