Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement (EA) in the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) are scheduled to recommence next week.
Late last year, ACMA staff rejected a proposed agreement, the second time they have done so despite now having gone without a pay rise for three years.
Once again, the vote was decisive. Turn-out was high, with 87.38% of people eligible to vote doing so. Of these, 61.76% voted NO.
These are strong results and reflect employees’ strong opposition to the federal government’s policies of requiring Commonwealth employees to trade off hard-won conditions for a meagre pay rise with no back pay.
The vote also reflects an effective stalemate in negotiations. The fact is that the federal government’s position makes negotiations almost impossible because the key element of any such bargaining – the wage rise – is non-negotiable.
Bargaining for this new EA began in September 2014 – 2 ½ years ago. The only obstacle to reaching agreement is the Turnbull government. There could be no clearer indication of how ruthlessly this government is trying to reduce working people’s wages and conditions – and how determined workers are to resist them.