Meagre offer will cost DHS after "aggressive" talks
Department of Human Services staff have been offered a slight pay rise, but it comes with stipulations designed to rush agreement.
The 30,000 public servants DHS employs have been offered just 1.15 per cent more per year, but they will only get a 0.75 per cent pay rise if they fail to sign up by September 1.
The tough offer is the result of ongoing negotiations between DHS and the Commonwealth, a stand-off which has seen threats from either side and been labelled “aggressive” in its industrial tactics.
The offer also swings on a number of conditions, including forcing public servants to trade away about $250 million of wage increases, working hours and annual leave.
It is understood that DHS bosses want to put the directly deal to the workforce, bypassing trade unions for a more prompt response.
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Human Services Doug Cameron has weighed in and taken a swing at Government negotiators.
“The Abbott Government’s aggressive tactics in negotiating an employment agreement with Department of Human Services workers is a disturbing sign of things to come for public servants across Australia,” Senator Cameron told Fairfax Media reporters.
He said the threat to halve the pay offer if the deal is not signed within five weeks was “unacceptable for the department that delivers vital front-line services such as Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support”.
“Tony Abbott is trying to force department workers to sign immediately by threatening further cuts if they don’t,” Senator Cameron said.
“This government is focused solely on cost-cutting, which ignores key drivers of efficiency, productivity and customer service.
“Negotiations should be focussing on drivers of productivity such as workforce skills, investment in technology, improved management systems and work organisation and a strong customer focus.”
Shadow Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Brendan O’Connor jumped on board for the attack too, saying the Abbott government was taking a “wrecking ball” to the public service.
“The dirty details of this deal reveal Tony Abbott wants to do away with collective bargaining and productivity improvements and instead only look at the bottom line,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Mr Abbott is using the public service as a test-bed for his extreme industrial relations agenda and that should worry all Australian workers.”
Public Service Minister Eric Abetz is yet to comment.