Executive bargaining representatives continue to stall the progress of negotiations with CSIRO no closer to tabling a formal pay offer to staff, despite almost six weeks remaining until the expiry of the current enterprise agreement.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government’s bargaining strategy is in difficulty, with CPSU set to escalate service-wide campaign activities after the revised pay proposal put forward by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) failed to secure clear support from union members.
The service-wide bargaining impasse has increased pressure on Executive to demonstrate leadership and chart a more independent course on pay negotiations that values the contribution of CSIRO staff.
The APSC’s revised proposal – an 11.2 per cent pay increase over three years (4% in the first year, followed by 3.8% and 3.4%) plus a suite of core conditions – was considered by CPSU members over recent weeks during workplace meetings, webinars and an online poll that involved more than 15,000 participants.
Despite strong approval for the package of core conditions, the 11.2 per cent pay proposal – a mere 0.7% more than the first offer rejected by CPSU members in May – met with an underwhelming response.
As a result, the package could only muster lukewarm support. From the 15,000 CPSU members eligible to participate, 48.1% of those polled rejected the offer, with 51.9% indicating approval.
“There is strong support for the conditions package that has been negotiated, including the industry leading working from home rights, increases to paid parental leave, the reintroduction of job security provisions and increased casual loading rates,” CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly said.
“But in an environment where every APS worker is feeling extreme cost of living pressures, the current pay offer just doesn’t cut it. The test for the Albanese Government as an employer isn’t just being better than the Coalition, it is to be a model employer – a goal they set for themselves.
“As a union, we will now escalate our campaign across the APS and fight for an improved outcome on pay. This will include escalated industrial action in Services Australia and the lodgment of applications for protected action ballots in other agencies,” Ms Donnelly said.
Back at CSIRO negotiations – where Executive bargaining representatives steadfastly refuse to discuss any matters with financial implications – feedback from Staff Association members has highlighted an issue of particular concern.
During a previous negotiation meeting, Executive bargaining representatives discussed and subsequently tabled proposed changes to recreation leave entitlements, specifically new content relating to cashing out accrued leave and accessing leave at half pay.
In an email to staff at the time, CSIRO Executive also described ‘moving to a purchased leave arrangement from our current averaging pay over a reduced working year,’ attracting concern from affected staff and union negotiators.
Executive bargaining representatives have admitted their intent to strip out clause 76 (averaging pay over a reduced working year).
The importance of the entitlement is best described by a Staff Association member.
“Reduced working year leave allows people, particularly those with young families, to take additional days off during a fortnight, without the stress of trying to manage your budget to accommodate a significant time without pay, which would be the scenario of a purchased leave arrangement.”
Other topics discussed during the most recent negotiation meeting included childcare, CSOF Level 5 access to time off in lieu, workload review, health and safety representative recognition, voluntary redundancy, job security, merit promotion, reward assessment procedures and family and domestic violence leave.
Staff Association negotiators have now presented all union claims and model clauses and requested that Executive representatives use the next meeting to submit the balance of their proposals.
However, Executive’s ongoing reluctance to table a pay offer or discuss matters with financial impact means that meaningful progress in negotiations remains illusory.
The next negotiation meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 4 October.
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