Public servants revolt over enterprise deals
By Barry Healy
SYDNEY — Members of the Public Sector Union have until August 28 to vote on a wages motion endorsed by their national executive opening the way for enterprise bargaining in the Australian public service. The motion has sparked a members' revolt initiated by Canberra unionist Bronwyn Taylor.
Secretary of the PSU National Delegates' Committee in the Department of Health, Housing and Community Services, Taylor has circulated a supplementary motion for members' meetings.
The executive calls for an 8% pay rise, based on price rises and productivity bargaining, to be paid over 18 months. The government has already leaked its agreement and its preparedness to give the deal legal force so an incoming Liberal government could not renege on it — in return for enterprise bargaining.
PSU national secretary Peter Robson, an avid supporter of enterprise bargaining, has been trying for at least a year to wear down membership opposition to it. Taylor says the executive motion gives Robson "unrestrained opportunity to negotiate an agency based enterprise bargaining model for the APS if he so chooses".
The supplementary motion directs the national secretary: "in any negotiation on wages and conditions the PSU must not enter into negotiations which directly or indirectly imply or result in a commitment to agency based enterprise bargaining for PSU members in the APS".
"The PSU officials failed to negotiate their way through the last framework agreement on wages with the government. Now they are trying to prematurely force this motion on us", Taylor told Green Left Weekly.
The executive motion, potentially the most important change in union policy ever put to PSU members, will not be voted on at mass meetings; members will discuss it in isolated workplace gatherings.