Bureau of Meteorology rejects public service pay deal

Nearly 70 per cent of workers at the Bureau of Meteorology have voted to reject a pay deal in the latest blow to the government's public service bargaining policy.

Community and Public Sector Union Deputy Secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch: "The dud deal has now been rejected by BOM staff."
Community and Public Sector Union Deputy Secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch: "The dud deal has now been rejected by BOM staff." Photo: Graham Tidy

The news follows No votes at the Electoral Commission, National Archives and the Australian War Memorial while the Employment Department voted yes and the Australian Sports Commission returned a landslide approval for its new deal.

Sixty-nine per cent of the weather bureau's 1636 eligible public servants cast votes in the ballot with 68.3 per cent voting to reject the offer of 6 per cent pay rises over three years.

Attention will now turn to high stakes votes in Malcolm Turnbull's department, The Prime Minister and Cabinet, which began voting on Wednesday and the giant Defence Department, whose ballot gets under way on Thursday.

At the Bureau of Meteorology, it is understood that the "streamlining" of conditions out of the enterprise agreement and into "policy" was a key concern for bureau workers, echoing the situation at many other departments and agencies.


Worries over the treatment of BoM public servants at regional and remote locations were also a flashpoint during negotiations.

The bureau's deputy director of corporate services Vicki Middleton said she was disappointed with the ballot result and that she and her team had worked hard to offer the fairest deal they could.

"It is disappointing bureau staff have not voted to accept the proposed Enterprise Agreement 2016-19 in this week's ballot," Ms Middleton said.

"The bargaining team worked hard to achieve the maximum possible 6 per cent pay offer for its staff – the offer minimised job losses and retained the majority of benefits.

Community and Public Sector Union Deputy Secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said the bureau was an essential service to all Australians and was particularly important to those living in the bush .

"The staff who make that possible by working around the clock and around the country have now clearly rejected a deal that was all stick and no carrot," the union official said.

"The dud deal that has now been rejected by BoM staff would have stripped or eroded many of the rights and conditions that recognise the unusual hours and locations where people work to provide accurate and important weather data.

"This strong No vote is yet another reminder of how unhappy staff are at how they are being treated by management under the Government's hard-line public sector bargaining policy.

"A sensible and acceptable offer can't be made until the Government fixes its policy so the people who work in the public service can be treated fairly."

At The Prime Minister and Cabinet, where an earlier wage proposal was smashed in a ballot late last year, the union has been campaigning hard for a No vote and is confident of its chances.

Defence's 19,000 public servants have been subjected to an unprecedented marketing blitz featuring 51 separate "bargaining bulletins" and 98 staff meetings as it tries to get its 2 per cent a year offer over the line.

The results of the PM&C and Defence ballots will be known next week.