National

Vote no to sickie rorts, public servants urged

Public servants at the Agriculture Department have been urged to accept a new workplace deal which will allow a crackdown on their colleagues who rort their personal leave allowances.

Workers at the Department of Agriculture take an average of nearly three weeks sick leave each year.
Workers at the Department of Agriculture take an average of nearly three weeks sick leave each year.  

The plea comes as employees at another agency, the Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) voted to reject an offer and the giant Department of Defence indicated that a quick-fire repeat poll of its workforce was on the cards.

Agriculture Department Secretary Daryl Quinlivan made a last-minute pitch to his thousands of public servants, who are currently voting on a new enterprise agreement arguing that some of the proposed rules changes were vital to keep the department running within its budget.

The Secretary said the new enterprise agreement would allow managers to get tough on no-shows, demanding greater evidence of a legitimate reason for failing to front-up to work. 

Agriculture, which has already  had 'no' votes in two previous ballots, made the top four of comparable-sized departments for "unscheduled absence" in the latest charts with workers there missing an average of 14.2 days, or nearly three weeks, in 2014-2015.

Mr Quinlivan wrote of the "unfortunate reality" that some departmental employees were rorting their "generous" entitlements.

"I know that most of you are responsible and legitimate users of personal leave but the unfortunate reality is that there are some staff who do misuse our generous personal leave provisions, which is a problem for everyone else," Mr Quinlivan wrote to his workforce on Thursday morning.

"We are one of the only employers that does not have a certification requirement and what we are proposing will be one of the most flexible and easy to use arrangements around."

The vote closes tomorrow.

Meantime at ACMA, 396 public servants cast ballots, a 90 per cent turnout, with 76 per cent rejecting the offer that would have paid an average of 2 per cent a year for the three-year life of the agreement.

The authority did not respond before deadline on Thursday to a request for comment but technical union Professionals Australia said the result was an emphatic rejection of cuts to entitlements and conditions.

"This is an emphatic rejection of the current approach to bargaining," union official Dave Smith said.

"It rejects the stripping of workplace conditions and rights and the attempt to divide and conquer the workforce by targeted cuts to…conditions.

"Employees have stood together and said: 'it's us not me'."

At Defence, which came within less than 2 per cent, or about 279 votes, of getting its 18,000 civilian employees to accept the contentious pay deal this month, workers were warned not to expect anything better.

The Defence bargaining team wrote to employees on Thursday, saying fresh talks would begin again after Easter, but it was likely to be a short conversation,

"Bargaining will commence again on 29 March," the message read.

"As the offer you just voted on represents the best possible offer available we anticipate that multiple rounds of bargaining will not be required. 

"At the end of bargaining, a proposed Agreement will need to be approved by the Australian Public Service Commissioner.

"Defence will then make the Agreement available to you and make arrangements for a vote."

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