Public service boss John Lloyd has continued his push for a new public service workforce, predicting traditional hierarchical structures and union consultation will go, while "on-demand workers" and flexibility are the way of the future.
In a presentation on the future of work and what it could mean to the APS on Thursday, the Australian Public Service Commissioner said an "engaged and flexible workforce will be critical to business success".
Many APS workplaces already display this flexibility, he said, referring to ongoing, non-ongoing, part time and casual work, independent contracting and labour hire.
On demand workers were a major theme of the presentation, with Mr Lloyd saying "a basic misconception to dispel is the attitude that contingent work is neither desired nor beneficial".
"Many people prefer to work in this manner. They embrace the independence, choice, flexibility and rewards it offers. Only a minority feels aggrieved or exploited because they find themselves in this segment of the workforce," he said.
Mr Lloyd also took a swing at union involvement in the workplace, and doubled down on moves away from bargaining agreements with unions in preference of individual agreements.
"Since the 1970s some big firms employing thousands of workers and big trade unions have withered," he said.
While employers were embracing contingent workforces, Mr Lloyd said resistance from unions was a reaction to falling membership rates.
"In contrast, the unions reacting to their falling membership urge extensive regulation of contingent workers in an attempt to protect the regulated labour market. They have a forlorn hope that the use of contingent workers will not be cost effective."
The Community and Public Sector Union has argued that the number of labour hire workers and contractors in the public service is too high, but Mr Lloyd said efforts to limit the number of contractors would not be successful.
"Union attempts to limit that management prerogative must not be entertained. The inclusion of clauses restricting the rights of management to engage on demand workers must be rejected," he said.
John Lloyd was appointed APS Commissioner in 2014, and his time in the post has been characterised by aggressive and protracted negotiations with unions over workplace agreements. He is a member of free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs and has overseen APS-wide bargaining policies that cap wage growth and require his approval before pay rises in agreements are approved.
Workers at the Department of Home Affairs and the department are now in a Fair Work Commission process over their agreement, while other departments that have reached agreements did so after years of protracted negotiations. Mr Lloyd has previously blamed the CPSU's negotiation strategy for years of delays in reaching agreements.
Enterprise agreements between unions and employers "do not sit well with modern empowered teams of workers," Mr Lloyd said.
"Agreements like these often include extensive union consultation obligations that can slow, hamper or even prevent substantial workplace change."
A shift away from the standard leadership and management structures was flagged, as well as pay structures with rewards linked to performance. Mr Lloyd signalled a shift to a flatter team structure based around specific projects, which also referenced temporary workers.
"The team membership will be a mix of skills set by the nature of the project. The membership will often change as the project develops. The team will be disbanded at project conclusion," he said.
"This will require a reconsideration of our approach to recruitment, leadership learning and talent management. A rethink of how we pay and reward staff and classify jobs will eventuate."
"It is likely that those workers remaining in the formal system will demand flexible reward structures more closely tied to individual and/or team performance," he said.
According to Mr Lloyd, the APS has placed a premium on "effective direct employer-employee relations," and is using common law contracts, individual flexibility arrangements alongside "job marketplaces" and temporary workers to adjust to the future of workplaces.
CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood hit back at Mr Lloyd, saying there was no evidence that workers in the gig economy preferred their working arrangements.
"It's bizarre to be accused of being old fashioned by a man whose views on industrial relations haven't evolved from the 1970s. When Mr Lloyd talks about a 'modern' workplace what he's actually referring to is his Dickensian vision for Commonwealth agencies where the bulk of workers have no job security, virtually no workplace rights and conditions and aren't paid a decent wage," she said.
"The CPSU is fighting against the rampant use of labour hire in Commonwealth agencies because in most cases it means workers are being paid a pittance while agencies are paying private companies a fortune. When we have labour hire workers in the Tax Office being paid less than McDonalds staff then there's clearly something broken."
The union said its membership is at 50,000 and while there has been a slight decrease in numbers, that was due to job cuts in the public sector.
"The Commonwealth public sector has been gutted in recent years, with the thousands of jobs that have been slashed having a terrible impact on essential public services. John Lloyd would better serve the tax payers who fund his lavish salary by working to rebuild the public sector and the critical services it provides rather than spending so much of his energy on the CPSU," Ms Flood said.