One agreement to rule them all

In a devastating move in the 1990s, the Victorian State Government in Australia legislated to put everyone employed by the government on individual contracts.

Logo CPSU ColourThe traditional job classification structure was removed, replaced with performance pay.

This new system heavily favoured high ranking officials, with lower paid staff the least likely to see any pay rise at all.

Things began to change in 1999, with the installation of a Labour government. The career public service was reinstated via painstaking negotiations over a number of years and a lot of hard work by the CPSU, our Australian sister union.

Terms and conditions were reapplied equally across the entire public service, and a central salary spine was designed to realign public service occupations, both agency-specific and cross-agency. 24,000 public servants were reclassified.

Recently the CPSU has taken this consolidated approach one step further and has negotiated for all public service members in Victoria to fall under one central collective agreement. The new move makes things simpler for all parties involved.

The establishment of a public service cadetship, which allows people with fewer opportunities to achieve a certificate in government and priority appointment to permanent positions is designed to support diversity in the public sector.

Benefits such as cultural leave for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders, family violence leave and parental leave are included in the agreement. The family violence and parental leave clauses are both gender neutral in this latest update.

Karen Batt of the CPSU says the benefits are clear: “An understanding of terms and conditions across the public service removes inequities between agencies.”

It’s not without its challenges, managing such a large number of parallel negotiations has proved a headache to maintain, but the end result is a cohesive and collective support for people working the Victorian public service.