Employers, unions clash on flexible work deal for public service employees: report

'The last thing we need is for their stay-at-home-first attitude to infect our broader economy'

Employers, unions clash on flexible work deal for public service employees: report

Employers and unions are arguing anew over flexible work arrangements as Australia's public sector employees overwhelmingly voted in favour of a new deal that would grant significant flexible work rights, among other benefits.

National employer association Ai Group has slammed the results saying the private sector won't be turning to public service on how to make workplaces more productive, innovative, or collaborative.

"For those who have no choice but to be at work – truck drivers, plumbers, teachers, paramedics, factory workers, chefs, doctors – it is just a nauseating confirmation of how far out of touch the federal public service, their unions, and unfortunately the government are from workplace reality," said Ai Group CEO Innes Willox as quoted by the Australian Financial Review (AFR).

"Business leaders look at this too and can only shake their heads. The last thing we need is for their stay-at-home-first attitude to infect our broader economy."

Unions answers back

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), which negotiated for the pay and conditions package, responded to the Ai Group's remarks.

"This attitude will come at a cost to businesses who aren't benefiting or being supported to benefit from their employees having flexible working conditions," CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly said as quoted by AFR.

"Being flexible about how, when, and where work is performed where possible is as big an opportunity for employers as it is for employees."

Favourable flexible work arrangements

The clash between both sides came as Services Australia, the Australian Taxation Office, and Home Affairs joined the growing list of agencies supporting the pay and conditions package negotiated by the CPSU.

According to the CPSU, the new pay and conditions package include an 11.2% pay rise with back pay, a sign-on bonus, new consultation rights, improved parental leave, and significant flexible work rights, with no cuts to existing conditions.

"This is a good package that is already delivering APS (Australian Public Service) employees strong, industry-leading conditions, improved pay, and a financial boost," Donnelly said in a statement.

In November, 67.5% of CPSU's more than 16,000 participants have voted to endorse the proposed APS wide pay and conditions package, which led to bargaining at the agency level where unions and management ironed out details specific to their organisation.

Once done, the Enterprise Agreement goes to a vote where all employees in the agency can cast their ballot. Since December last year, 50 agencies across Australia, including three non-APS government agencies, have supported the deal.

"We have been pleased to see high turnout and strong positive responses, with ballot results reflecting the wider sentiment that exists among employees," Donnelly said.

"With a strong foundation of industry-leading conditions and improved pay, our focus will now shift to supporting CPSU members as they access their new rights and conditions."


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