Individual contracts for CES

Issue 

Individual contracts for CES

By Paul Oboohov

CANBERRA — The Public Employment Placement Enterprise (the corporatised successor to the Commonwealth Employment Service) is planning individual contracts for all former public servants as they transfer from the wreckage of the CES between now and next May.

A dispute has been notified in the Industrial Relations Commission and a hearing set for October 10.

Attempting to use a loophole in the Workplace Relations Act, the Community and Public Sector Union will argue that the PEPE is the "successor business" to the CES (something which the minister, Amanda Vanstone, has admitted) and that all current CPSU awards should therefore follow across.

The PEPE has been told that even if it does not front for the hearing, it will be bound by any commission order.

The union's section council in the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs is not strongly resisting management's push. There is no industrial campaign to back up the IRC case.

With only a skeleton administration and staff at present, the PEPE could shrug off any IRC ruling as meaningless, and then pressure ex-CES staff to sign individual contracts as they come in the door at their most vulnerable.

Since the start of the year, the section council leadership has been rolling with management's punches, negotiating staff transfers to the new service and adopting a wait and see approach to management's moves towards non-union certified agreements.

In the whole sorry saga of the destruction of the CES there has been no concerted sector-wide response by the union.