The Department of Veterans Affairs says it is business as usual despite the emphatic rejection of a wage offer by its workforce.
As Commonwealth workers from a range of departments prepare for more strike action next week, Department of Veterans' Affairs workers have voted by a margin of 61 per cent to 39 per cent with 1587 of the department's 1920 public servants casting ballots.
The proposal would have seen Veterans' Affairs staffers spend an extra three day at their desk each year and a significant streamlining of their enterprise agreement that the main workplace union says would cut rights and entitlements.
The emphatic no-vote in a service delivery operation has been welcomed by the Community and Public Sector Union as tens of thousands of public servants in Department of Human Services, the biggest services outfit of all, continue to vote in a ballot that ends on Thursday afternoon.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs says the current agreement, which expired more than 14 months ago, will remain in force while it goes back to the drawing board in the bargaining process.
"The Department will now consider its options and return to the bargaining table in due course," a DVA spokesman said.
"In the meantime the current Enterprise Agreement will continue to apply to all non-SES employees".
With Immigration and the Australian Taxation Office poised to go to the polls in the coming weeks to vote on similar offers, the DVA and the DHS results will be closely watched by the men and women at the top of the Australian Public Service, as well as their political bosses.
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Nine enterprise agreements have now been voted up under the government's bargaining policy: three at NBN Co, and one each at ComSuper, the Australian Office of Financial Management, Treasury, the Australian Public Service Commission, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, and Communications.
But there have been surprising rejections at the Industry and Attorney-General's departments, with Veterans' Affairs the latest setback for the Abbott Government's tough public sector bargaining policy.
CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said the DVA vote was a clear indication the government's approach to bargaining with its public servants was not working.
"DVA staff have sent a very clear signal to the employer and the Government that there needs to be a better way forward," Ms Flood said.
"The Abbott government's harsh and unfair bargaining policy is going nowhere fast.
"Less than 2 per cent of public sector workers having signed up to new agreements, a damning statistic which highlights just how out of touch the government's bargaining policy really is and the extent to which public sector workers will vote these agreements down."
Attention will now turn to the DHS vote, which is due to end on Thursday afternoon after being dogged by technical glitches in its early stages when the electronic ballot boxes collapsed under the weight of numbers of public servants logging on to vote early.
A yes-vote, by any margin, would be a stunning victory for the government in the CPSU's public service heartland while a strong no-vote would add impetus to the union's campaign across the service as public servants at other giant departments await their turn at the ballot box.