The CWU and other relevant unions met with the Australian Communications and Media Authority on Friday 5 September as a first step towards negotiating a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) for Authority staff.
The meeting was very much a preliminary one designed to set the parameters for negotiations. Chief among these are the current federal government guidelines for Australian Public Service (APS) bargaining which require that any “enhancements” to current conditions, including wage rises, must be offset by productivity gains or other savings.
In other words, “trade-offs” are compulsory. Heads, the Abbott government wins, tails the public sector employees lose.
Judging from some of the ideas for offsets canvassed briefly at the meeting, it is not going to be easy to identify productivity boosting measures or cost cuts that are going to have a significant impact on the ACMA budget.
That means ACMA must be expecting their employees, like thousands of other public servants, to accept wage rises – if any - well below inflation (i.e. real wage cuts) unless they are willing to accept major reductions to current entitlements.
Such an outcome is hardly likely to be acceptable to CWU members and other ACMA employees. We have every reason to expect that a difficult round of bargaining lies ahead.