As has been expected, negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have been moving slowly because of the straitjacket imposed on bargaining by the federal government.
The government has laid down harsh policy guidelines for all Commonwealth departments and agencies in an attempt to drive down the wages and conditions of its own employees.
These involve compulsory productivity “offsets” for any wage rises – even ones that don’t keep pace with increases in the cost of living.
At the last negotiation meeting, the unions involved – the CWU, CPSU and Professionals Australia – rejected all the offsets i.e. cuts to conditions proposed by ACMA in the “streamlined” agreement they tabled. The proposal is now available on the ACMA intranet.
So far, no agreement has been reached in any federal department or agency since the new guidelines were introduced. In a sign of the times, union members in the biggest federal public sector agency, the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Human Services (DHS), are expected soon to vote in a protected industrial action ballot.
The major union in DHS, the CPSU, applied for the ballot earlier this month, saying the agreement being offered by DHS was one of the “ugliest we have seen.” It offered wage rises well below CPI and proposed a range of cuts to key conditions such as personal leave, hours of work and higher duties allowance.
Wage rises have yet to be discussed in the ACMA negotiations but the signs are not good. Unions will be meeting with their ACMA members in the week beginning Monday 20 October to discuss future options.
CWU members wanting further information should contact Dave Smithwick in the Divisional Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.