Agriculture Department public servants to get pay rise after accepting dealNoel Towell
Published: June 19 2017 - 5:43PM
The epic industrial dispute at the Agriculture Department is finally over after its 4000 public servants voted, at the fifth time of asking, to accept a new deal on pay and conditions.
But even the departmental hierarchy concedes that there is still much unhappiness among the rank-and-file over how they have been treated since 2014.
But the decisive yes-vote will give hope tp other large departments, including Defence and the Australian Taxation Office, holding votes this month in an effort to end their years-long workplace disputes.
More than 17,000 public servants are currently voting at Defence with a result expected on Wednesday morning.
The ballot at the ATO begins on Thursday while public servants at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's own department, PM&C, will begin voting on Friday.
Agriculture Department Secretary Daryl Quinlivan conceded on Monday morning, while announcing the result of the ballot that the three-year dispute had been "intense, frustrating and emotive".
The new deal was accepted by 63 per cent of an 85 per cent turnout of eligible public servants, who have not had a general pay rise since 2013.
They will now get a deal worth an average of 2 per cent a year for three years but there will be no back pay, which is banned as part of the Coalition's Abott-era public sector bargaining policy.
Mr Quinlivan reflected on Monday morning on the three years of industrial strife at his department.
"The last three years of bargaining have been intense, sometimes frustrating and emotive for a lot our employees," he wrote.
"We've had a long journey toward a successful agreement, and I know not everyone will be happy with the outcome.
"No matter how you voted, I think we can all agree that having bargaining behind us is an opportunity to refocus on our strategic priorities."
Another major change under the new agreement will be in "attendance management" with Agriculture public servants now having to produce medical or other evidence when taking sick leave or other forms of "unscheduled absence".
The agreement now must go to the Fair Work Commission for approval.
The main workplace union, the CPSU, said the marathon struggle demonstrated the failure of the government in managing its public service workforce.
"It's better news for Agriculture staff that there's finally a resolution to this protracted dispute, but the fact it took five ballots to get there underlines the Turnbull government's abject failure over public sector bargaining," CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said.
"This agreement is far from perfect and is still far less than what staff deserve, but it's a marked improvement on what's been previously offered.
"It is fundamentally unfair that staff will not get back-pay because it's absolutely not their fault this has dragged on so long.
"This long deadlock has only ended because management finally engaged in meaningful negotiations with the CPSU, recognising that the key issues for staff were retaining hard-fought workplace rights and conditions.
"They moved significantly on a number of key issues, though we still believe staff deserved better."
This story was found at: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/agriculture-department-public-servants-to-get-pay-rise-after-accepting-deal-20170619-gwtu73.html