Conditions cut in DEETYA

Issue 

By Paul Oboohov

CANBERRA — Following the dismantling of the CES, the staff remaining in the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs voted 87.75% in favour of accepting some loss of conditions in a postal vote concluding on June 18.

Under the new certified agreement, DEETYA staff will lose two weeks' higher duties pay, and staff over 45 years old or with over 20 years' service will lose their extra redundancy retention period of six months. An individual performance management system will put hurdles in the way of some annual pay increments. A white-anting clause allows individual contracts.

The pay deal is for 5.5% over 15 months. Inflation over the agreement's life is forecast to be 5-6%, higher if interest rates rise.

Senior officers receive an extra pay deal, plus better superannuation through rolling their allowances into their salaries. The upper levels also receive $1500 compensation for DEETYA parking fees, and tax effective options on cars, travel, etc. in exchange for salary sacrifices.

The special conditions for senior officers was in part an attempt by the staff negotiating team to head off a group of senior officers seeking a separate deal.

When it was clear that the CES was to be dismantled, the Community and Public Sector Union's DEETYA section council leadership accepted a management proposal to have separate deals for DEETYA and the CES, weakening both. A CPSU log was drawn up accepting the principle of no loss of conditions, and no performance-based pay.

The section council then accepted management's move for a non-union agreement, and elections for a "staff negotiating team".

The team, most from the section council leadership, hid behind their role as "representatives" and held only focus group-style "staff consultations". No CPSU members' meetings were held to direct CPSU negotiators.

Following closed-door negotiations with management, the proposed agreement emerged as a fait accompli, with CPSU members' meetings called to "explain", and later rubber-stamp it. The CPSU leadership told members about management's inability to renegotiate during an election period and emphasised the possibility of losing conditions in the current award stripping under the Workplace Relations Act if the agreement was not accepted. Finally, 95% of CPSU members voted for the agreement.

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