DETYA staff reject non-union agreement

Issue 

DETYA staff reject non-union agreement

BY PAUL OBOOHOV

CANBERRA — Staff at the federal Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA) have overwhelmingly rejected a draft non-union agreement in a blow to management's attempts to circumvent union and staff opposition to changes in work conditions.

According to results released by the Australian Electoral Commission on July 27, 68% voted against the agreement. Voter turnout was 72%.

Management forced the vote after breaking off negotiations for a union agreement with the Community and Public Sector Union. The CPSU ran a "Vote no" campaign against the non-union agreement.

Management's offer included a 9% pay rise over two and a quarter years, which staff deemed inadequate compensation for inflation and the GST. Its obsession with introducing a five-point performance rating scale also angered many staff members, who believed the system to be a Trojan Horse which would allow the later introduction of performance-based pay and greater, arbitrary management control.

DETYA bosses' intransigence is the latest in a long history of stonewalling union claims. Following rejection of a union log of claims at the start of the year, management insisted on pursuing an non-union negotiation process. Union delegates and section council officials responded with a petition calling for a union agreement, which gained over 800 signatures in a department with 1300 staff not already on individual contracts.

The petition was rejected by management, who then drew up very unequal "electorates" based on divisions and states for an election of "staff representatives". The CPSU vigorously contested this and won every position.

The union's win forced management to temporarily agree to an union process, which it then ditched when the union refused to agree to all of its demands, began holding members' meetings in DETYA offices and threatened industrial action.

The CPSU Section Council has called on DETYA management to restart negotiations and provide work time for staff consultations. Meanwhile, management has started a round of "focus groups" and line management have begun approaching individual staff members asking why they had rejected the management draft.