APSC statement that Government bargaining policy is not intended to reduce standards of living
Dear Australian Public Service Commission,
I’d like to make a request under the FOI Act.
I refer to the APSC’s decision, in response to the FOI application set out here:
On the first page of the decision-maker’s letter dated 24 April 2017 (https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/3...), the decision-maker states:
"The Commission rejects the premise of your request that the Government’s policy is to ‘strip away the real wages and conditions of Commonwealth public servants’."
That statement constitutes a defense of, and support for, the Liberal National Government’s Bargaining Policy for rank and file Commonwealth public sector staff.
The decision-maker who made that statement is presumably aware of her obligations, as an employee under the Public Service Act 1999, to behave apolitically, impartially and with integrity - which in this case would require that the decision-maker’s comments in support of the Government’s policy are based on objective evidence that supports her statement. For if it were otherwise, the decision maker’s statement would amount to nothing more than a partisan political statement.
Accordingly, I seek:
1) access to any documents held by the APSC that expressly support the decision-maker’s statement that the Government’s Bargaining Policy for rank and file Commonwealth public sector staff is not intended to diminish the real wages and conditions of rank and file Commonwealth public servants. (Given the APSC's role in administering/enforcing the policy, if any such documents exist, presumably the APSC would hold them).
I note that the APSC Enterprise Agreement 2015-2018 (the current APSC agreement) came into force 13 months after the expiration of the APSC’s prior enterprise agreement. The current APSC agreement provides for wage increases for the APSC’s rank and file staff of 1.5% per year for three years. Noting that the current APSC agreement came into force 13 months after the expiration of the APSC’s prior agreement (through no fault of the APSC’s rank and file staff) – the current APSC agreement provides effective salary increases of 4.5% over four years, or 1.125% per year.
At the time the current APSC agreement was negotiated, the Federal Government’s budget forecasted rises in the consumer price index of 2.5% per year for both 2015/16 and 2016/17 and increases in the wage price index of 2.5% and 2.75% for 2015/16 and 2016/17. While the increases in the official consumer price index have fallen short of the Government’s forecasts, those increases well and truly eclipse the 1.125% annual salary increases provided to the APSC’s rank and file staff. On any measure, the vast majority of the APSC’s rank and file staff have suffered a reduction in their real wages (and their living standards), in the range of 3%-5%, as a direct consequence of the APSC’s decision to adopt and enforce, against its rank and file staff, the Government’s Bargaining Policy for rank and file Commonwealth public sector staff. Furthermore, the APSC’s management team would have been well that the salary increases granted under the current APSC agreement would have never kept up with projected increases in the cost of living.
I note from the decision-maker’s decision letter of 24 April 2017, that the APSC’s senior executive management team responded to locking its rank and file staff into four years of negative real wage growth by awarding themselves pay increases:
- ranging from at least 33% to up to 333% greater than those awarded to the APSC’s rank and file staff; and
- that, in some cases, exceeded the 3% pay rise generally granted to SES across the public service (as indicated in the APSC’s latest remuneration report), by 40%.
That leads to the second part of my request, as follows.
(2) Assuming the decision-maker’s statement defending the Liberal National Government’s policy (on the basis that that policy is not intended to diminish the real wages of rank and file Commonwealth public servants) is factually correct, I seek access to any documents held by the APSC that explain why the APSC’s management bargaining team negotiated the current APSC agreement in full knowledge that the current APSC agreement runs contra to the claimed objective of the Government’s Bargaining Policy for rank and file Commonwealth public sector staff (being that that policy is not intended to diminish the real wages of rank and file Commonwealth public servants).
Dear I Whittaker,
I write to acknowledge receipt of your request for access to documents, dated 16 June 2017 (as below) made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth).
The statutory timeframe for responding to your request is 30 days from the date of receipt, however this timeframe may be extended in certain circumstances. We will notify you if such circumstances arise.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions relating to your request.
Australian Public Service Commission
Level 6, Aviation House, 16 Furzer Street, PHILLIP ACT 2606
Please find attached correspondence relating to your FOI request.
Australian Public Service Commission
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