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PS job cuts 'unprecedented', inquiry told

The current round of cuts and mass redundancies in public services around the nation are unprecedented in recent history, a federal inquiry has been told.

The sackings have been accompanied by unilateral removal of long held rights of access to industrial tribunals, legislated removal of terms and conditions and wage ceilings that are insufficient to keep up with inflation.

The Community and Public Sector Union also says a propaganda campaign has been used by various governments to justify the cuts.

"The campaign has sought to demonise public sector workers by creating a false dichotomy between “faceless unproductive bureaucrats” and “front line workers” and to denigrate the work of those who are the interface between the government and the citizens of each State and Territory," the union says in a submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry into the employment conditions of public servants.

The union raises specific problems for workers who transfer between a territory, state and federal public sector as a result of COAG processes.

Implementing regulation and competition reforms calls for territory, state and federal governments to simplify regulatory arrangements or rationalise public services and activities between the jurisdictions.

The union cites the National Measurement Institute, the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency, the National Rail Safety Regulator and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

"We regard the absence of any nationwide agreement in these situations on the treatment of employees, their industrial entitlements, implications of transfer of service and the retention of their accrued entitlements as significant contributors to the ambiguous industrial relations status of the new entities," the union says.

"In NSW for example, staff transferring to NMI faced considerable disadvantage as they would be facing a pay freeze of around 4-5 years while the Commonwealth collective agreement caught up with then-current salary levels and also because of the increase in working hours."

The union says the NSW public sector is the largest employer in Australia, with 332,555 full-time equivalent employees, of whom one third work outside Sydney.

"The O'Farrell Government has declared war on the industrial relations system in NSW," it says.

"Wage setting in the NSW public sector operates within a narrow framework that denies public sector workers the basic right to collectively bargain over wages and conditions or to have their wages and conditions determined by an impartial and independent arbiter."

The submission says at last June the ACT public sector had 21,955 employees, representing about 10 per cent of the territory's workforce.

"Like the NT Government, the ACT Government faces difficult fiscal circumstances including contracting Commonwealth expenditure, a moderating economy, softening revenues and increasing cost pressures," the union says.

"However, while there have been some cuts to departmental budgets, the ACT Government has sought to manage its fiscal position without wholesale job losses or redundancy processes.

"The ACT Treasurer [Andrew Barr] stated: 'We will not respond in a knee-jerk manner by slash and burn budgeting'.

"Budget pressures on the ACTPS has manifested in other ways. In recent years, we have seen the ACT Government unilaterally reduce the employer superannuation contribution rate for new ACTPS employees, the implementation of an “efficiency dividend”, tough bargaining conditions for enterprise agreements and a four month hiring freeze on “non-frontline positions” in 2010."

The CPSU says the cuts are:

NSW: staff reduction target of 15000 and a 1.2 per cent “labour expense cap”

Victoria: 4,200 “non service delivery positions” over three years

Queensland: 15,000 positions

Western Australia: 400 positions in 2011

South Australia: Between 2012 and 2016 the number of full time equivalent employees will decrease by 3,8931

Tasmania: 2,300 over four years

Northern Territory: staffing cap on staffing levels over 2010 and, since the election of the CLP Government last August, 600 job cuts have been announced, a recruitment freeze has been implemented and hundreds of temporary contracts have not been renewed

ACT: 180 positions through “natural attrition, reduced contractor expenses and voluntary redundancies”

14 comments

  • People cheer when pollies promise to cut the public service but then in the next breath winge when things don't get done, services no longer exist, their problems are not attended too, their phone calls are not answered and public facilities are closed. Can't have it both ways.

    Commenter
    Another Grumpyoldfart
    Location
    Tuggers
    Date and time
    February 21, 2013, 1:15PM
    • Let the bastards eat private sector cake and then bitch when they have no public sector recourse when the cake leaves a bitter taste in their mouths.

      I'm over it, especially in the ACT and southern NSW region where these idiots don't understand there is a symbiosis at work.

      Maybe they'll get it when their business goes bankrupt because there aren't enough clients. Or because there is no one assigned to putting in place the policy that they expected would underpin their business strategy. On the plus side, they can see public servants at work at Centrelink, as they wait two hours to collect their benefits because there aren't enough front line workers left there either. LMAO, you deserve that and worse.

      Commenter
      YS
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 10:19PM
    • There is going to be a lot of very cheap housing in Canberra later this year and in 2014

      Commenter
      Remember 1996
      Location
      Deakin
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 11:59PM
  • I note with some considerable interest that the CPSU has completely forgotten to mention the jobs cuts in the Commonwealth public service. Over the last 12 months thnaks to the drive for a surplus commonwealth agency have lost about 8,000 employee, why was not not mentioned in the article.

    Commenter
    Greg
    Location
    Here and There
    Date and time
    February 21, 2013, 1:19PM
    • Mate, if you're going to rag them, at least get it right. The APS has fallen by 4250ish jobs since the 2011 MYEFO cuts were announced. Nearly a full 50% less than your own propaganda would have us believe.

      Commenter
      AndyG123
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 5:17PM
  • The sad part is since Ms Gillard has dropped the ball so badly the O'Farrell government will be in power soon and this will only get worse.

    Commenter
    ??
    Date and time
    February 21, 2013, 1:20PM
    • NSW public sector is the largest employer in Australia, with 332,555 full-time employees>
      Population of N.S.W ..7,238,819 (2010)
      That's 1 Public servant for every 21.7 people.
      How can we afford this...

      Commenter
      That's a lot of tax payers money
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 1:39PM
      • You do realise that public servants include police, nurses, doctors, teachers and parking inspectors .. they don't all sit at a desk pushing paper. If you have a large population, you would have a large public sector servicing the needs of that population.

        Commenter
        umm ok
        Date and time
        February 21, 2013, 5:07PM
    • No mention of the years of federal cuts tho? Did the cpsu miss those little ones?

      Commenter
      Old Hack
      Location
      Central Committee
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 1:56PM
      • You aint seen anything yet. I tip by 2016, end of Abbott's Government first turn 45,000 jobs will be gone. Then thousands more in 2nd term. We have two factors here, cash strapped governments with no money to pay salaries. Then seismic shifts in way public services will be provided, ie Abbott Government is going to cut Health and Ageing and Education in Canberra back to the bone and transfer functions to State governments. Governments all all levels need revenue but the average Australian is a greedy person and won't pay more tax, hence more mass sackings on way.
        The only thing I can't figure out is why are developers building more apartment blocks? Don't they read up on what Abbott will be doing to Canberra? These towers are going to be empty for years if not decades.

        Young people who want well paying jobs will have to move interstate.

        Commenter
        WATCHING
        Date and time
        February 21, 2013, 2:45PM

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