Agency bargaining rush is on in HSH


Agency bargaining rush is on in HSH

By Phil Shannon

CANBERRA — Departmental management and the national officials of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) are priming union members for the adoption of an agency bargaining deal in the Commonwealth Department of Human Services & Health (HSH).

Following two weeks of industrial bans in the state offices, which were supported by members in the ACT in solidarity but not in support of agency bargaining, HSH management has revised its previous offer and union negotiators have reached an agreement in principle on a deal.

Bans have been lifted, although members in NSW voted overwhelmingly (92-12) not to accept the proposed deal, and ACT members voted only 65-45 in favour.

Management's revised offer is not the breakthrough touted by the national officials. It proposes only a 2.5% wage rise instead of the previous offer of 2.0%, and senior officers still face an actual cut in pay. The clause on "no arbitrary job cuts" to fund the wage rise is no guarantee against agreed, planned job cuts.

HSH management has refused to have anything to do with agency bargaining if it is required to agree to "no job cuts", clearly indicating that cuts are in the offing. They will be achieved under the union-endorsed principle of "continuous improvement" to achieve ongoing "productivity" improvements.

The CPSU national officials are now proposing to give members only one week to consider a final document, with joint union-management information sessions after which members will vote in small workplaces. Mass meetings in the ACT have rarely gone the way the national officials would like, and the last NSW meeting surprised them too.

Delegates opposed to agency bargaining are planning to organise nationally for mass meetings and to present the case against the wages-jobs trade-off of this deal.