With bargaining set to commence in a number of State Government Agencies, there has been a lot of uncertainty and confusion about the State government’s new Wages Policy and what it means for us. As previously flagged with members, ASU are very disappointed with the new Wages Policy, and we continue to lobby the Government around this.

To recap, the new wages policy provides 2 options (Primary and Secondary Pathways) to progress negotiations.

Option 1, Primary Pathway contains wages and conditions capped at 2% per annum over the life of the (4 year) Agreement.

Option 2, Secondary Pathway provides the option to roll over the current Agreement terms and conditions for 12 months with an annual wage and allowance increase capped at 2.5%.

Government had been telling agencies that ASU must provide written in principal support for one or other option before that agency would be able to proceed with the Government approval process to commence negotiations.

We made it abundantly clear to Government that we would NOT be providing support to either option. The net effect of this requirement was that we were being asked to sign off on a substandard pay outcome as a pre-condition to the commencement of bargaining. This is not how bargaining works, and it is inconsistent with the requirements of Good Faith Bargaining set out in the Fair Work Act.

We indicated that we would take this to the Fair Work Commission as a Good Faith bargaining dispute, should they continue to insist on this approach. Common sense prevailed, and the Government has backed down on this. Agencies are now free to put in their submissions to Government and commence the bargaining process. Only then will we start talking about pay outcomes.

But bargaining will not be easy under this new policy. We need all hands on deck, and members will need to be prepared to fight if we’re going to achieve a decent outcome.

It is particularly disappointing that a Labor State Government is taking such a hard line approach to bargaining with public sector employees. The ASU has achieved pay outcomes averaging 3.25% in the State Public Sector over the past two years, and there is no reason why our members at Melbourne Water, Barwon Water, Gippsland Water, Westernport Water, and VicRoads should have to cop this arbitrary 2% cap.

We will continue to fight for decent payrises that keep up with the cost of living, and remind members that as always, there is strength in numbers. Talk to a colleague today about joining ASU.

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