ACT government takes aim at workers


By Stuart Martin

CANBERRA — The Chief Minister's Department (CMD) is the first department under the Carnell Liberal government to use the new industrial laws introduced by the Howard government. ACT public servants who are already on agency enterprise agreements, a legacy of the federal Labor government, now face massive cuts to conditions and real pay.

The government has prepared a "staff only" agreement with no union involvement.

The proposed agreement, given to staff in CMD last week, claims to have a 4% pay increase. However, Tim Gooden, ACT Government Section secretary for the Community and Pubic Sector Union, explained, "The first 2% only pays for an increase in working hours, from 147 to 150 hours per month.

"The second 2% is conditional on so-called productivity being realised. These productivity increases are not clearly identified, and the decision rests with the chief executive officer whether the increase should be paid."

The agreement also includes:

  • no remuneration for higher duties performed in a six-week period;

  • provisions that allow the government to sack staff;

  • reduced access to the workplace by unions; and

  • reduced access to the Industrial Relations Commission.

The agreement will be voted on by all staff on November 25 and 26. If it is accepted and passes the "no disadvantage test" in the IRC, then it will set a precedent for the ACT Public Service.

Gooden said, "The Liberal government wants to sell off the public service and needs to reduce public service conditions and get easy access to forced redundancies to achieve this."

The CPSU will hold a stop-work meeting on November 25 to discuss possible industrial action and then march to join the Trades and Labour Council-led community "rally against privatisation" being held at lunch time on the same day.

"Workers in Canberra have had enough of the Liberal cuts and are prepared to fight to defend their rights to jobs, a decent living standard and the right to organise in a union", Gooden said.

"The CPSU will actively campaign with members to reject the government's proposed agreement in CMD.

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