APS staff offered 10.5% in first round of pay bargaining


Federal public servants have been offered by the Australian Public Service Commission a cumulative 10.5% pay rise over three years.

It is the first offer back from the government in the current round of APS bargaining and a figure that is likely to set the bar for states and other industrialised industries.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) revealed the offer ahead of the APSC making a formal announcement, with the figure somewhat higher than initially anticipated as the APS struggles to attract and retain talent as comparable corporate wages gallop ahead.

The CPSU is gunning for a 20% pay rise over three years, consisting of 9% in the first year, 6% in the second year and 5% in the third year.

The government’s offer is more evenly spread, with modest front-loading of 4% in the first year, 3.5% in the second year and 3% in the third year.

Public servants who are CPSU members now have until May 30 to vote on the issue, with the union likely to try to push the pay rise north.

The CPSU’s position is that a big number is needed to correct the previous government’s leaching of APS and to come good on election promises for the APS to become a model employer.

CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly did not indicate how she anticipated the offer will land with members, but the ability of the union to extract an offer in the initial round of bargaining will likely buoy hopes in the rank and file.

“While I will not pre-empt feedback from CPSU members on the pay offer tabled by the APSC, I will say that our pay claim is ambitious because it has to be,” Donnelly said.

“To rebuild the APS, service-wide bargaining must deliver improvements to pay and conditions that are not ignorant to the consequences of the last decade.”

However, the union is giving the government some credit for sitting down and talking, saying it marked a much-needed improvement for public sector workplace relations.

“To be engaging in genuine negotiations with the government, on pay and conditions, is a far cry from where we were just a year ago,” Donnelly said.

“This time last year APS workers were in the final days of what was a decade-long assault on the public service and public service workers.”

Writing to the public to convey the first round offer, APSC chief negotiator Peter Riordan said “an APS employee who currently earns a salary of $95,873 would receive a total pay increase of $10,421, taking their annual salary to $106,294”.

“This is a fair and affordable pay offer which provides a pay rise to APS employees while balancing the government’s broader fiscal responsibilities on behalf of all Australians,” Riordan said in the letter.

Riordan said the commonwealth “considered a range of factors when determining its pay offer” that included recent Australian wage outcomes, “numerous economic indicators”, current labour market conditions and “budgetary considerations”.

Riordan also outlined efforts to bring pay scales closer together.

“In addition to the proposed headline pay increase, we will seek to take initial steps to reduce pay fragmentation,” Riordan said. “Proposals on pay fragmentation will be discussed in a bargaining meeting in late May 2023 and may provide additional pay rises for employees in agencies with the lowest pay scales.”

Riordan and finance minister Katy Gallagher are hoping to finalise pay negotiations by July so that changes can be made to individual agency awards.

“We aim to move through this as quickly as possible, with an expectation that most enterprise agreements be operational before the end of March 2024 and some finalised by the end of 2023,” Riordan said.

“This is a fair and considered pay offer. It offers APS employees the largest increase in pay in over ten years balanced against inflation pressures, global economic uncertainty and broader fiscal responsibilities,” Riordan said in another statement.

“We are looking forward to progressing discussions on a variety of matters in coming weeks.”


APS negotiators to make pay offer next week

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