BY PHIL SHANNON
CANBERRA By the close of voting on October 23, 93% of staff in the federal Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) had voted in favour of the department's next certified agreement.
This overwhelming endorsement followed a strong campaign by the Community and Public Sector Union and other unions in DHA for a union-negotiated agreement. Almost 2000 DHA employees signed a petition for such an agreement, in accordance with section 170LJ of the Workplace Relations Act.
The agreement delivers a higher-than-average salary increase of 4.5% per annum over 20 months (4% on certification and 3.5% in October 2003) plus significant salary adjustments for different levels to restore relativities.
Since agency bargaining has been in place in the Australian Public Service, DHA staff have seen their salary levels worsen considerably compared to other departments and this CA will make up for lost ground.
The union-negotiated agreement contains a no-performance pay component following a strong and successful union campaign against the performance-based pay focus of the previous agreement proposed by management in 2000.
The agreement also contains a number of improved conditions (including four weeks' paternity leave, a school holiday care subsidy and Indigenous cultural leave) but the vinegar in the honey is the continued agenda of "corporate services reform" (outsourcing of property and other support functions) to fund the pay rises.
From Green Left Weekly, October 30, 2002.
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