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Public servants in the federal government's biggest department have again emphatically rejected a wage deal.
About 23,000 Department of Human Services workers voted, with 79.5 to 80.5 per cent voting to reject a wage deal that offered pay rises of 2 per cent, on average, over three years.
The 35,000-strong department runs Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support network and is a crucial battleground in the Coalition's long dispute with many of its public servants.
Staff were told of the outcome on Friday morning just before news broke that their minister Stuart Robert had been sacked by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
In response to inquiries from Fairfax, the department's general manager of communications Hank Jongen issued a brief statement.
"We wanted to give staff the opportunity to vote on the agreement and have a pay rise this year," Mr Jongen said.
"Our staff have reached a decision and voted against the proposed Agreement.
"77.51 per cent of eligible staff participated in the vote with 79.47 per cent of those voting against the Agreement.
"We will keep staff informed of the next steps."
The Community and Public Sector union was quick out of the blocks on Friday, saying the emphatic result was delivered despite the voting system crashing and related reports of voting irregularities, with some workers complaining their vote may not have been counted and the CPSU saying it will pursue the issue with DHS management.
The union's National Secretary Nadine Flood said the vote was another blow to the government's hardline bargaining stance.
"The mums and dads working in DHS have voted in their thousands to once again reject a dud deal based on the Government's deeply flawed and unfair public sector bargaining policy," the union leader said.
"The agreement being pushed by DHS management still seeks to strip important rights and conditions, including essential family-friendly protections such as where and when you can be moved to work, in return for a sub-standard pay offer that does not compensate staff for a wage freeze that's now stretched for nearly 20 months."
Meanwhile, the Australian Electoral Commission has voted by a 60 per cent majority to reject the deal it had been offered and went on the attack on Friday after breaking the news to staff.
"The commissioner is naturally disappointed with the result, especially for the large number of staff who voted yes but who will not now receive any pay rise," a spokesman said.
"The AEC is committed to working with staff and their representatives towards achieving an EA that will be supported by its staff.
"The AEC regards assertions about the stripping of rights and conditions as simply misleading and notes that the CPSU rejected an offer from the AEC of a specific arrangement to define and strengthen consultation processes within the Commission."
But the union's national President Alistair Waters described the offer as another example of the government's "dodgy approach to bargaining" and pointed out that the AEC's staff would be vital in an election year.
"AEC staff have rejected a dud deal that would have stripped important rights and conditions – such as consultation rights, a fair performance management system and reasonable control of working hours. All that would have been traded away from a underwhelming pay offer that's well short of what staff deserve after an 18-month pay freeze," the union official said.