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The Australian Public Service Commission has released its updated guide to social media use by Federal public servants. The guide, Making public comment on social media: A guide for employees, leaves absolutely no room for employees to make critical comments of any of their ministers, superiors, or departments.

Furthermore, it suggests public servants are liable to be disciplined even if they don’t promptly delete a critical post on their social media account by an outsider.

First brought to light by a critical article in The Australian newspaper, the nine-page, 3,000+ word guide goes into some detail as to what is and what is not acceptable.

Now listen up!

“As members of the Australian community, Australian Public Service (APS) employees have the right to participate in public and political debate,” the document begins.

“But this is not an unlimited right. APS employees have particular responsibilities under the Public Service Act 1999 that come with being employed as a public servant by the Commonwealth of Australia. In some cases, these responsibilities limit their ability to participate fully in public discussions, including on social media.”

Criticism is a definite no-no. Whether it is the employee’s current agency, Minister, previous agency, or observations of a person, the guide is clear to begin with: “Criticising the work, or the administration, of your agency is almost always going to be seen as a breach of the Code. The closer your criticism is to your area of work, the more likely this will be.”

The guide then goes on to warn that critical posts are not allowed after hours or in a declared private capacity, or even anonymously: “Even if you don’t identify yourself you can still be identified by someone else.”

And just in case you’re wondering, your right to freedom of speech is, well, worthless: “The common law recognises an individual right to freedom of expression. This right is subject to limitations such as those imposed by the Public Service Act. In effect, the Code of Conduct operates to limit this right.”

The commissioner responds

The Australian Public Service Commissioner The Hon John Lloyd has responded to the detailed article published by The Australian newspaper, declaring it to be misrepresentative:

“The use of social media by employees requires discretion and judgement,” he writes. “For this reason it is important that all employers, including those in the APS, ensure their employees clearly understand the expectations of their behaviour when they use social media.

“The APSC consulted extensively with APS agencies and employees in late 2016. This consultation indicated that the policy settings did not need to change, but that current obligations were not well understood by employees. The CPSU encouraged its members to participate, and made a submission.

“It is not more restrictive than previous guidance. Rather, it clarifies the parameters around what public servants can and cannot say, and should give greater confidence to APS employees when they are participating online activity. Submissions to the review indicated that aspects of the previous guidance was unclear and ambiguous, and that revised guidance should be simpler and easy to understand.”

Straight from the Trump playbook: The Greens

Greens employment spokesperson Adam Bandt MP slammed reports in The Australian that the Turnbull government will impose restrictions on public servants criticising his government on social media.

"There must have been a few paragraphs missing from the leaked Trump/Turnbull transcript, because this latest crackdown on the public service is straight from the Trump playbook," said Mr Bandt.

"If anyone challenges Trump, they get fired. Malcolm Turnbull, in his desperation to hang onto power, is trying to do the same.

"Holding public servants responsible for what others post on their page is the stuff of the thought police. Your job shouldn't be in danger because someone shares a post on your page about marriage equality or action on climate change and you don't delete it.

"This is a ruthless assault on freedom of speech that would make any demagogue proud.”

The guide, Making public comment on social media: A guide for employees, is available here.
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                    [post_excerpt] => The updated guide to social media use by Federal public servants has been released.
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Single agency bargaining: To bin or not to bin?

 

The Australian Public Service (APS) should dump its single agency bargaining approach to negotiating pay and conditions and re-introduce centralised bargaining, believes a former Public Service Commissioner, as the bitter three-year pay dispute between unions and the federal government grinds on for tens of thousands of public servants.

While a number of government departments and agencies have signed enterprise bargaining agreements, many larger ones are holding out for a better deal, notably Human Services, the Australian Taxation Office and Immigration and Border Protection.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says that around two-thirds of APS workers remain without an agreement, with little possibility of back pay.

Australian National University Professor Andrew Podger, who was Public Service Commissioner between 2002 and 2004, backs an APS-wide approach to bargaining because he says single agency bargaining has had serious, negative consequences for the public service which have outweighed the promised benefits, chiefly around flexibility.

“This has caused very serious damage to the integrity of the whole pay system in the Public Service with tangible impact on mobility within the service, serious management problems for agencies affected by machinery of government changes, justified complaints of unfairness across and within agencies, and unknown impacts on attraction and retention of the skills the APS requires,” Prof Podger told the 2016 senate inquiry into APS bargaining.

Prof Podger says single agency negotiations have created pay disparities for similar jobs  in different departments and agencies and has also damaged staff morale and caused resentment.

“What’s happened is they’ve all gone their different ways and none of them have been able to focus on the market,” says Prof Podger.

“Strict central rules led to different pay rates, not because they are useful but because they are forced to be there.”

He argues that these differences have affected mobility between departments and caused problems attracting the best talent, intensified for departments that have suffered deep budget cuts and may not have the resources to match pay rates.

“It really is making it very hard for the Department of Social Services to recruit a good person from Treasury [for example] and that’s silly. Treasury jobs aren’t more important than jobs in top policy positions in DSS or Education etc,” he says.

“The very areas where you want to actually improve their performance are often the ones that are having the most difficulties.”

He advocates “a serious market-based approach” and service-wide employment conditions, because the skills across most departments are similar.

Dr John O’Brien from Sydney University Business School’s Work and Organisational Studies agrees that a centralised bargaining system would be “far more efficient” and says most public sector bargaining in the states and territories is already centralised.

“The current system is operationally decentralised but controlled from the centre,” Dr O’Brien says. “Wage disparities reflect the capacity of each agency to pay.”


Research and reports

Pay inequalities within the APS and their impacts have long been the subject of fierce debate.

A 2010 report Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration, said wage disparities had “increased significantly both within and between departments and agencies” since APS wages and conditions were devolved in 1997.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that growing disparity in wages and conditions across agencies has discouraged mobility and reduced the sense of a unified APS with a strong career structure,” said the report.

It said that the APS classification profile had changed dramatically, reflecting the changing nature of work and the changing labour market.

One of its key recommendations was that the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) should take over Australian government policies for agreement-making, classification structures, APS remuneration and workplace relations advice.

The APSC’s 2016 Remuneration Survey revealed a 10 per cent disparity for similar work at every level in the APS in the salary range between the 5th and 95th percentiles.

The gap reached 30 per cent or more for the Senior Executive Service; 26 per cent for graduates and 22 per cent for the lowest classification (APS 1).


Machinery of government complications 

Machinery of Government changes when whole departments or parts of them have merged have thrown differences in pay and conditions in the APS into stark relief. For example, when Indigenous Affairs moved into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Border Force joining Immigration.

Could these complications be an argument to retain single agency bargaining? Prof Podger says not, though he admits it takes ‘a couple of years’ to disentangle.

“It would be a tricky process of transition to narrow these differences over time,” he says. “No cuts [to pay and conditions] but maybe a freeze or slow increases until these things are a little bit more aligned.”

Dr O’Brien says centralised bargaining would probably need to be preceded by a round that attempted to reduce wage disparities before it was introduced.  


Public V private 

A gap has also opened up regarding pay for similar skills and experience between the APS and the private sector, making it harder to attract outside talent.

Prof Podger says the private/public sector gap may be felt differently depending on pay grades. He says public servants’ pay is probably above the market at the lower end of the pay scale, around APS1-4, and below the market at the higher end, above EL1.

But he adds that most people are rising up through the public service to reach senior levels so it is internal fairness that matters most. As well, it may be necessary to be in line with the market to attract bright graduates in the first place.

Pay is not the only issue, of course, when considering public service recruitment.

“I think we forget often that people really are motivated to serve the public,” Prof Podger says. “It’s exciting and interesting work. People feel as if they’re having an influence and doing things that are good for the public. Pride in work is important for retaining staff.

“Sadly there is still too much denigration and lack of respect for the public service from the likes of IPA [Institute for Public Affairs Australia].”


Market forces and flexibility

Prof Podger believes that the federal government needs to pay much more attention to market labour forces, linking this to departments which are having retention and recruitment problems, possibly involving extra strategies.

He believes that it is more important for agencies to study the labour market than having strict rules on single agency bargaining, which he says were supposed to increase flexibility but had instead delivered differentiation in pay and conditions and made the government less flexible.

But he says a whole of APS bargaining system would still need extra flexibility in order to attract good candidates to specialised roles or into areas of skill shortages, such as ICT, project management, policy and research or finance.

Individual contracts could be offered in a limited number of cases, with clear agency policies and APSC checks on pay rates and merit-based recruitment to prevent abuse. “Agencies need some discretion or there’s a problem," he says.

But Prof Podger qualifies that reflecting market forces more closely in the APS may not translate into higher pay or better conditions for public servants.

“It won’t be easy. It might not be more generous. Its disciplines would be a different set of disciplines. You would be talking seriously about the attraction and retention of the skills you need, [though] productivity would still be there.”


Productivity 

Pay rises in the APS have been tied to productivity offsets for many years, but Prof Podger believes this has blinded successive federal governments on both sides to what is most important: having the workforce needed to do the job.

He says efficiencies and productivity can be pursued via workplaces changes, mostly technological, without totally wedding them to pay rates.

“Certainly, you want the unions to agree to the new technology and change work arrangements required by the new technology but you still want to go back and see that the pay rates ought to reflect what the market requires. There could be a reduction in staff.”

Dr O’Brien calls the emphasis on productivity trade-offs in the public sector “a zero sum game” but says that bargaining cannot be separated from the efficiency dividend, which makes bargaining even more difficult.

He says that even past public service commissioners – with the exception of the current ‘hardliner’ incumbent John Lloyd - have pointed this out.

“Wage increases equals staff losses or a freeze on appointments or decline of services,” Dr O’Brien says.

 

Breaking the APS industrial relations deadlock

Asked who or what could break the current APS bargaining deadlock, Prof Podger says it will not be easy, given the government’s intransigence.

The Union may also need to shift a little, he says suggesting the CPSU takes a “more careful look at market conditions and total remuneration” and shelves calls for domestic violence leave, relying on the discretion of individual managers instead.

But he did not blame the union for being jumpy about the government trying to remove some points out of EBAs and into policy, where they could ultimately be changed.

“Given the rhetoric coming from the likes of the IPA, taking super outside [EBAs] would understandably be seen as a threat,” Prof Podger says.

“The government needs to loosen its wage outcome policy. This is unlikely that a below inflation wage adjustment is sustainable. Direct negotiations between the unions (coordinated by the ACTU) and government could lead to negotiated parameters for bargaining. Again unlikely!”

Dumping single agency bargaining would also free up agency heads to do other work.

Prof Podger says: “The system has required a very high transaction cost across the APS, requiring enormous effort by management in every agency, most of whom lack the specialist knowledge needed to get the best remuneration outcomes.”

Timeline
  1. The Keating government introduced decentralised agency-based enterprise bargaining into the APS in the early 1990s, ostensibly to allow agencies to improve productivity in ways that were difficult under centralised bargaining agreements.
  2. There is disagreement over whether or not this was intended to be a temporary arrangement
  3. John Howard reverted to agency-based bargaining after the 1996 election. Employment conditions were included within the bargaining framework along with an attempt to link any increase in remuneration to productivity gains.
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The Australian Public Service Commission launched the As One: Making it Happen, the APS Disability Employment Strategy 2016-19 on 31 May 2016. Australian Public Service Commissioner the Hon. John Lloyd reflects on its importance, and on his own personal experience with disability.

The Australian public sector is well placed to lead the way in disability employment. Our workforce is large and geographically dispersed, and provides services to all Australians. We can make a real difference as an employer and a role model. The Strategy, developed in consultation with APS agencies and peak disability bodies sets out actions to increase the recruitment of people with disability. It sets out actions to ensure that employees with disability have opportunities for career progression and to ensure workplaces are accessible and inclusive. The APSC has developed a range of resources to assist agencies implement the strategy including an Implementation Guide for HR managers, a manager's toolkit and resources for employees. These can all be found at the Disability page on the APSC website.

Personal experience

A number of people today have been willing to talk about their own personal experiences and I thank them for that and admire them for doing it. I'd also like to today share my own personal experience which will help to explain why myself and the Australian Public Service Commission is very committed to the Strategy. Twenty-two years ago in 1994 one of our children passed away at Calvary Hospital. Ruth was 16 years old and had cerebral palsy. She never spoke and never walked, so as a parent I've travelled the whole journey. From the despair and the worry of finding out the prognosis after about one year, the elation at small wins, the despair at many reversals, 40 admissions to hospital, and 5 near death experiences then finally watching her pass away. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oBTzf-KSjE This taught you a lot about life, I found that you, acquired a deep understanding of the mysteries, the meaning and the sanctity of life and also of course you had an enormous amount of support from friends and helpers, who, were very kind and, made a great contribution to help Ruth and us through difficult periods. And then like a lot of public servants, some years after, after all that, I decided to, offer some work back to the community, so I've been on the board of a number of organisations, the Cerebral Palsy Association in Western Australia, it's now the Brand Institute, Hartley Life Care here in Canberra and also Scope in Victoria. All of those bodies are private non-government outfits dedicated to help people with intellectual disability. [quote]And of course when you do those sorts of jobs it's a privilege because you meet so many outstanding Australians. People who are the clients themselves and their carers dealing with enormous challenges everyday often with fantastic spirit, the staff who dedicate their careers to helping people with intellectual or other impairments and of course the volunteers, these organisations can't work without extraordinary Australians who step up and volunteer to help in so many ways.[/quote] So that's my story, its personal, but it does, I think, underline why I will be very committed to the Strategy and will ensure that the APSC gives it its full support, Ruth would expect nothing less of us.

Making it Happen, APS Disability Employment Strategy 2016–19

The As One: Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy, first published in 2012, set an agenda for change and delivery of improved Australian Public Service (APS) employment opportunities for people with disability. As One: Making it Happen, APS Disability Employment Strategy 2016–19 builds on the initiatives and momentum of the first strategy to improve the employment experience of people with disability in the APS. As One: Making it Happen forms part of the Commonwealth's response to the National Disability Strategy 2010–20. Approximately one in five Australians identify as a person with disability. Improving the representation of people with disability in the workforce will enable the APS to respond more capably to the needs of the community. By representing the Australian population's diversity, we are better placed to communicate, understand and meet the full range of needs. With an ageing workforce and shrinking labour market, it is important to be an employer of choice. This requires agencies to be disability confident and offer rewarding careers in which people with disability are supported to perform at their best. Rates of disability are significantly higher among Indigenous Australians. As One: Making it Happen complements the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy 2015 by seeking to improve representation of Indigenous Australians with disability in the APS. Our goal is to increase the representation of employees with disability across the APS, including Indigenous people with disability. [quote]We need to offer people with disability multiple pathways into the public service and offer existing employees with disability better career opportunities. We must also increase the representation of employees with disability in senior leadership positions.[/quote] As One: Making it Happen provides a roadmap towards improved representation of people with disability in the APS workforce. It has been informed by consultations with employees with disability, APS agencies and community and private sector bodies working in the disability field.

Actions to achieve our goal

All agencies are responsible for improving the representation of people with disability in their workforce. All employees have an obligation to engage with, and contribute to, initiatives that support employment of people with disability in the APS. The initiatives also require the support of employees with disability; their ideas and participation are essential in making the APS as inclusive as possible. APS agencies need to implement a feasible plan that delivers results. As One: Making it Happen focuses on four key action areas which all include a focus on Indigenous people with disability. These are:
  1. Expand the range of employment opportunities for people with disability
  2. Invest in developing the capability of employees with disability
  3. Increase the representation of employees with disability in senior roles
  4. Foster inclusive cultures in the workplace.
 

Principles that guide agencies' actions

Sustainable improvement in representation of people with disability will be driven by the following principles:
  1. Accountability—the head of each APS agency is accountable for improving the representation of people with disability in their workforce.
  2. Leadership—all APS leaders must participate and take real action to drive improvements in the employment of people with disability.
  3. Capability—the public service must have inclusive and accessible workplaces where employees with disability are supported and valued for their contribution and where managers encourage flexible working arrangements.
  4. Partnership—between APS agencies, non-government organisations and the private sector, to improve employment outcomes for people with disability and share best practice.
 

Measuring and reporting against action areas

The success of our actions will be measured by:
  1. an increase in the number of people with disability who come to work for the APS
  2. an improvement in reported job satisfaction for employees with disability
  3. an increase in the number of people with disability in senior leadership roles
  4. an increase in the number of employees who identify as having disability in agency human resource systems
This information is collected by the Australian Public Service Commission annually.  

Suite of actions

Agencies have different needs. In recognition of this, a suite of actions is set out under each of the four key action areas. Agencies should adopt those actions best suited to their needs. The Australian Public Service Commission will publish practical resources for disability employment, including agency programs and policies to share on its website. This will allow agencies to collaborate on initiatives and achieve greater impact within existing resources. These resources will be updated regularly.

Expand the range of employment opportunities for people with disability

To improve representation, agencies should review and expand the opportunities they offer to people with disability. Agencies should adopt a range of contemporary recruitment approaches to increasing the representation of people with disability in their workforce. Actions
  1. Apply the RecruitAbility* scheme to a broad range of vacancies, including graduate programs and Senior Executive Service roles, to maximise opportunities for people with disability.
  2. Expand pathways into APS employment, including through the use of disability affirmative measures in the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013 and the use of internships.
  3. Ensure recruitment and selection teams are disability aware and confident.
  4. Partner with disability employment service providers, universities and disability peak bodies to promote awareness of the range of jobs in the APS and to reach more job seekers with disability.
  5. Promote government procurement from businesses that employ people with a disability.

Invest in developing the capability of employees with disability

Employees with disability should be equipped to progress their careers at the same rate as others in the workplace and have equal opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for promotion. Making reasonable adjustments helps create a level playing field and enables employees with disability to perform at their best. Actions
  1. Make the workplace accessible.
  2. Make workplace adjustments where required, including job design and flexible work arrangements, to maximise productivity.
  3. Implement adjustments—including assistive technology—quickly to enable productivity.
  4. Provide support for managers and colleagues of people with disability. For example, increase managers' uptake of Mental Health First Aid training and disability awareness training.

Increase the representation of employees with disability in senior roles

At the heart of change is leadership. Our leaders are stewards of our values—they communicate our priorities and encourage and reward us to perform well. People with disability should be well-represented at senior management levels. Actions
  1. Ensure the inclusion of middle managers with disability in development programs for high performers.
  2. Offer career development opportunities to middle managers with disability who demonstrate consistent high performance.
  3. Provide senior mentors across the APS for employees with disability who have identified a desire to develop.
  4. Attract people with disability at senior levels from the community and private sectors.
 

Foster inclusive cultures in the workplace

  1. To improve the recruitment and retention of employees with disability, agencies need workplaces that are genuinely inclusive.
  2. Employees with disability will be more likely to tell their employer they have a disability, particularly when experiencing mental ill health, if they are confident they will be welcomed in the workplace.
  3. Workforce inclusion needs to be a priority for all managers, staff and colleagues, not just those working in human resources. Everyone has a role to play.
Actions
  1. Highlight the value of APS Disability Champions as visible advocates for employees with disability—and champions of change within agencies.
  2. Leverage the skills and experiences of people with disability to identify and overcome barriers, whether physical, systemic or attitudinal.
  3. Offer training to improve disability awareness and address unconscious bias.
  4. Integrate disability awareness principles into existing management development and orientation programs.
  5. Expand disability networks to support implementation of inclusive cultures within agencies.
  * RecruitAbility is a scheme where applicants with disability who opt into the scheme and meet minimum requirements of the role are progressed to the next stage in the selection process. For further details see: www.apsc.gov.au/priorities/disability/recruitability. [post_title] => John Lloyd – As One: Making it Happen, the APS Disability Employment Strategy 2016-19 [post_excerpt] => The Australian public sector is well placed to lead the way in disability employment. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => australias-public-sector-should-in-disability-employment [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-09 22:28:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-09 12:28:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24053 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23825 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-05-05 18:33:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-05 08:33:12 [post_content] => rejected photo_opt   Australian Taxation Office (ATO) chief Chris Jordan has all but shut down any prospect of a meaningful breakthrough in the bitter two year industrial battle over Australian Public Service pay and conditions, before a 2nd July election. He’s frankly told more than 20,000 ATO staff what happens next is simply unclear after they delivered a thumping 71.5 per cent rejection of the agency’s latest offer. The announcement of a negative result from the ATO’s Enterprise Agreement vote revealed on Thursday afternoon – in which 85 per cent of eligible staff voted – wasn’t the only big news though. It contained the strongest signal yet that agency heads are simply not prepared to try and force through any more deals based on the Abbott government’s hardline industrial bargaining policy. With as little as just one working day left before the public service and the Turnbull government hit caretaker mode, timing is everything. “I am very disappointed that we didn’t reach agreement,” Mr Jordan said in a communique to ATO staff. “Given that the Government is likely to announce an election soon, we are not in a position to give certainty about the next steps at this time.” Disappointment was not the sentiment expressed by the Community and Public Sector Union, for which the effective collapse of the Bargaining Framework will be a major victory. “ATO management pushed incredibly hard for staff to accept the harsh and unreasonable offer they put on the table,” said CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood. “This result makes it crystal clear that our members won’t settle for anything less than a fair deal that protects their rights and conditions while granting a decent pay rise to compensate them for two long years of negotiations.” The ATO’s up-front position on what comes next sets a strong precedent for other agency chiefs to follow after the Australian Public Service Commission blanked taking a public position on the caretake bargaining issue in late March. “The APSC will issue advice to agencies regarding bargaining during the caretaker period prior to the period commencing,” a statement from the Commission provided to Government News said at the time, with no further information provided. With Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expected to head to Yarralumla on the weekend, the glaring absence of an official position on whether bargaining should continue effective draws a line under the two year-long battle that commenced with former Employment and Public Service Minister making the winding back of APS conditions and entitlements a frontline industrial issue. The announcement of the ‘No’ vote at the ATO is the second major rejection from public servants this week after Defence civilian staff also rejected their enterprise offer. While there have been a handful of smaller agencies signing off on their new workplace deals, the vast majority of federal public servants are now almost certain to head to the polls with their existing industrial deals expired and a new one no-where in sight. That scenario leaves the APSC, and its chief John Lloyd, in a decidedly awkward position of being the custodian of one of the Abbott government’s most visible failures. Labor has already announced that it will tear up the existing bargaining framework if elected, a move clearly intended to warn senior public servants of the potential dangers of trying to force a result before the election. There is also a widely held belief that retaining Mr Lloyd in the position of APSC Commissioner would be unworkable if Labor is elected. Much less clear is what a re-elected Turnbull government’s intentions for the APSC might be, with some Liberals known to be unconvinced of the need for the agency to exist at all. One of the biggest hints for what would be in store for the wider public service appeared in May 3 Budget which lumped together the theme of “Transformation” with the reviled Efficiency Dividend to slash $1.9 billion in spending, a savings measure that was ranked second in prominence in the so called Budget ‘Glossy’ that spells out spending and savings initiatives. With public service numbers already sheared back to levels of a decade ago, the anticipation is that government spending on back office functions, technology, paper and process heavy functions like procurement costs, property leases and vehicles will all be targeted. That expectation was fuelled by the tapering down of the renewed efficiency dividend in the later year of the forward estimates because there would be fewer efficiencies to be found. [post_title] => ATO wage deal rejected, Jordan boots failed APS bargaining into long grass [post_excerpt] => Caretaker mode bites. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => tax-wage-deal-rejected-jordan-boots-failed-aps-bargaining-into-long-grass [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-05 18:33:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-05 08:33:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23825 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23332 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-03-10 17:37:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-03-10 06:37:14 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23333" align="alignnone" width="300"]12771584_10154051509326579_2475803752566372190_o Pic: Facebook[/caption]   Malcolm Turnbull has now become the direct target of thousands of angry public servants locked in a bitter two year workplace bargaining dispute, with the head of the Community and Public Sector Union demanding the Prime Minister himself find “sensible solution” or face APS-wide strikes including stoppages at airports over the Easter school holidays. The direct appeal to top for the PM to push his public service chiefs into finding a compromise with employees came from Community and Public sector Union National Secretary Nadine Flood on Thursday as the union laid out its latest timetable for the biggest round of strikes yet that will hit towards the end of March. “We are saying to the Prime Minister: we will commence significant strike action in three weeks-time if the government doesn’t actually sit down and try and find a sensible resolution,” Ms Flood said. But the union has tempered its threat of stoppages with the strongest signal yet that it could be willing to accept low pay near inflation increases to preserve workplace conditions that the Abbott government had sought to have removed from enterprise agreements and put into less enforceable policy. “This is not a dispute about pay: we are not far apart on money,” Ms Flood said. “It’s a dispute about the rights and conditions that people have and the pressures on them after two years of a wage freeze.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuPdp3ldn5c The Australian Taxation Office on Wednesday conspicuously backed away from its previous attempt to add 45 minutes to the working week for its public servants, with Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan emailing staff to inform them of a new proposal that “reinstates the conditions that mattered most to you and keeps us at the forefront of APS pay and conditions." Mr Jordan described the revised proposal as “a significant shift from the last offer” adding that he hoped this showed ATO management had listened to its 20,000 staff. The Tax Office’s compromise is significant because it sets a precedent for other agencies, especially the massive Department of Human Services, to eliminate some of the most contentious rollbacks of conditions that for most public servants are far worth more than a small incremental pay rise. It is understood that since the change of leadership – and the return of Martin Parkinson to become public service chief – substantial pressure has been mounting on the Australian Public Service Commission, and its chief John Lloyd, to help find a circuit breaker in the negotiations. Some commercial suppliers to the government believe that agencies are now being given a far broader scope to find financial and operational efficiencies outside labour costs, savings that can be sold as “smart savings” that would target areas like better mobility between agencies and a substantial decrease in the use of contractors. But it is unlikely a major breakthrough will occur before the next round of strikes this month that the CPSU is talking up to be the biggest and most disruptive yet. The centrepiece of the latest round of protected industrial action is an “APS-wide strike” of 24 hours scheduled for Monday 21st of March that will hit agencies including Tax, Centrelink , Medicare, Defence, Bureau of Meteorology,  Bureau of Statistics, Department of Parliamentary Services, Education, Prime Minister & Cabinet, Environment, GeoScience Australia, Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Australian Synchrotron. Those strikes will be followed just days later on the 24th March with an Easter round of action by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources that will hit airports across Australia. Despite the lack of a major breakthrough, the CPSU is insisting its actions and persistence is slowly having an effect on the government. “Strong action from members throughout the campaign has helped secure important wins on issues like superannuation and productivity measurement,” the union told members in a bulletin on Thursday, adding that this had helped change the APS’ bargaining policy in October 2015. “So far in 2016 we are seeing more agencies being allowed to restore conditions. This movement has been enough to see staff in a handful of agencies narrowly - and often reluctantly - vote up agreements.” The looming election is also potentially handing the CPSU an advantage, with the lack of a resolution providing ammunition for Labor to attack the Turnbull government’s industrial relations intentions. Predictably, the CPSU is calling out all the big names of the Coalition’s right faction as exemplars of what to expect. “This has been a tough and nasty dispute where managers and casuals have been used as strike breakers and members have been stood down without pay for imposing partial work-bans,” the union said. “At the same time hard-line Coalition figures including Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz and Michaelia Cash have launched regular public attacks on public workers and their union.” So far in 2016 we are seeing more agencies being allowed to restore conditions. This movement has been enough to see staff in a handful of agencies narrowly - and often reluctantly - vote up agreements. It is estimated that around 130,000 Commonwealth public servants are sitting on lapsed enterprise agreements. [post_title] => Public servants appeal direct to Turnbull to end dispute before APS-wide strikes [post_excerpt] => We are not far apart on money: CPSU [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => public-servants-appeal-direct-to-turnbull-to-end-dispute-before-aps-wide-strikes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-03-10 17:53:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-03-10 06:53:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23332 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23329 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-03-10 15:21:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-03-10 04:21:09 [post_content] => sue williamson crop [Opinion: Dr Sue Williamson, University of NSW Canberra] Negotiations for replacement workplace agreements have been occurring between the Community and Public Sector Union and many Australian Public Service agencies for almost two years. Many employees have rejected proposed new enterprise agreements, sometimes more than once, as recently occurred in the departments of Defence and the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The union believes one of the reasons for the rejection is that agreements remove or reduce family-friendly working arrangements. It is, therefore, timely to consider whether enterprise bargaining still works for women. Although I have not examined every proposed agreement issued by agencies, preliminary analysis confirms some employment conditions that are important to women have been removed or reduced. For example, some agencies have removed clauses enabling employees who are affected by domestic violence to access leave specifically for this purpose. Some of these clauses were only included in the last round of agreements and the reasons for their removal are not publicly known. Coupled with the Prime Minister's stated commitment to reducing violence against women, the removal of this clause appears to undermine government policy. Similarly, some agencies have reduced important part-time working provisions. For example, some agencies have changed the relevant clause in their agreement so managers are no longer required to consult when changing an employee's part-time working arrangements. Yet another proposed clause would remove a guaranteed right to part-time work when an employee returns from maternity leave. Australia has one of the highest rates in the OECD of women working part-time – women manage work and family responsibilities by working part-time. A recent government report showed two-thirds of requests made by employees to work flexibly were to reduce their hours of work. Yet, some agencies are proposing to change part-time work provisions to the detriment of female employees. Academics have long been concerned that enterprise bargaining might not be the optimal way to achieve workplace gender equality and assist women to meet work and family needs. Such concerns were raised in 1994, shortly after enterprise bargaining was introduced into Australia, and have continued to be reiterated. My research, as well as that of other academics, has shown that while enterprise bargaining has resulted in the formal introduction or increase in a range of family-friendly working arrangements, bargaining might not necessarily benefit female employees. Women might be excluded from the bargaining process; bargaining items that assist female employees might not be included in bargaining agendas or might be traded off, as appears to be occurring in this round. The warnings sounded more than 20 years ago are still relevant. Which brings us to a thorny question: what is the best way to provide family-friendly and other gender-equality provisions? As we are seeing, enterprise bargaining is cumbersome and might have negative outcomes for women. Human resource policies can be innovative and flexible, but might not have teeth. And, as has been noted in this bargaining round by the CPSU and Public Service Commissioner, John Lloyd, human resource policies might be unenforceable. In other words, if an employee considers their employer has contravened a workplace right or entitlement and it is contained in a policy, it might not have the force of law. Additionally, human resource policies can be changed by agencies with little or no consultation with employees. Legislation can have bite, but is time-consuming to develop and implement, and also subject to change, dependent on political vagaries. This is the case with the Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill 2015, which would amend the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010. The bill was introduced into the Senate in 2015 but has not progressed. This legislation would prevent employees from "double dipping" and accessing both their employer's paid parental leave scheme and the government-provided parental leave pay. The government has moved to "soften" the bill, but has been quiet on this issue this year. Research undertaken by the University of Sydney shows passing the bill would result in large numbers of female employees receiving less parental leave pay, which could mean mothers spend less time with their newborns. There is no easy answer to how best to establish and enshrine working conditions for women. As British academic Linda Dickens noted in the 1990s, gender equality in the workplace is based on a "tripod" of regulation, consisting of legislation, human resource policies and enterprise agreements. The danger is if one leg of the tripods falters, the other two might not hold up the seat of workplace gender equality. Dr Sue Williamson is a lecturer in human resource management at the University of NSW Canberra, who is researching best-practice HR policies for women in the public sector. [post_title] => Does enterprise bargaining (still) work for women in the public sector? [post_excerpt] => Workplace conditions that help women are too easily sacrificed in enterprise bargaining. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => does-enterprise-bargaining-still-work-for-women-in-the-public-sector [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-03-15 10:14:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-03-14 23:14:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23329 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23115 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-02-22 12:45:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-02-22 01:45:59 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23116" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Glow in the dark heart The dark heart of public sector bargaining?[/caption] An almighty stoush is brewing between the main public service union and Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd, after he blamed the union for paralysis in the public sector bargaining process. Mr Lloyd accused the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) of running a scare campaign, sabotaging negotiations and “letting down” union members in an opinion piece in The Australian last week. A hot button issue is over whether employee agreement must be secured before any changes are made to staff’s work locations, hours and days. The union is fighting the government’s attempt to remove this clause, which it says will hit women, part-time workers and parents the hardest. Mr Lloyd said the government was trying to achieve a “modern workplace” and merely wanted to “remove from agreements clauses that unduly restrict the capacity of agencies to adapt and change” and improve service delivery. Mr Lloyd broadsided the union for its “intransience” and said it had continually pushed for a pay rise of more than 6 per cent over three years and refused to delete “restrictive content in agreement clauses.” “This union attitude is nothing new,” Mr Lloyd said. “Over my long involvement in workplace relations, I cannot recall the CPSU embracing genuine reform initiatives that enhance flexibility or improve efficiency,” he told The Australian. The Commissioner painted a rosy picture of public servants living the good life with “generous conditions … equal or higher than community standards”, including leave entitlement, overtime and shift penalties, childcare help, remote locality allowances, travel allowances, training and education. “In contrast, the government has raised its pay offer and relaxed the bargaining position on super and the treatment of productivity improvements,” Mr Lloyd said. “A shift by the union to a bargaining position more grounded in workplace reality would be welcome.” The Public Service Commissioner has also been working with senior human resources executives from QUANTAS, Telstra, ANZ and Australia Post in order to modernise the public sector and make it more “businesslike.” He wants to implement the APS contestability review by senior businesswoman Sandra McPhee and has said he will look at talent and performance management, recruitment and separation and staff mobility. Meanwhile, the CPSU said Mr Lloyd had finally revealed his true colours and exposed the “dark heart of bargaining policy.” CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “We are delighted that John Lloyd has written this piece because it exposes the sort of misleading and deceptive advice he has been giving to Minister Michaelia Cash and through her to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “Mr Lloyd's piece seriously misrepresents crucial aspects of the dispute and goes a long way towards explaining why public service bargaining remains an unresolved mess.” She argued that the union had shifted its position on pay a year ago and had already been involved in workplace reform, including Human Services, Tax and Defence. “Mr Lloyd seriously argues that workers of the public service are acting to disadvantage themselves and doing that because the CPSU tells them to,” she said. “Public sector workers are smart and know what’s in their best interest. “The real reason why almost 130,000 public sector employees still don’t have new agreements is because employees remain deeply concerned by the nastier aspects of what Mr Lloyd is serving up.” So far 34 departments and agencies have signed on the dotted lines but scores more – and many of these are in larger agencies such as Defence; Department of Human Services and Immigration and Border Control - are holding out. Several critical votes are imminent, including the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, which opens on Monday next week and concludes on March 6 and the Department of Premier and Cabinet, which concludes on Friday. The Defence ballot is expected to be in late February, early March. Staff at the Department of Human Services voted by 79.5 per cent to reject the government’s latest offer early this month. Most enterprise agreements expired in mid-2013 and the government has repeatedly stated there will be no back pay. In the meantime, the union is believed to be considering its options, including the possibility of further rounds of industrial action. [post_title] => Union paralysed public sector bargaining: Public Service Commissioner [post_excerpt] => Minister reveals a “dark heart” says union. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => union-paralysed-public-sector-bargaining-public-service-commissioner [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-23 11:57:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-23 00:57:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23115 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 6 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22344 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-12-03 17:32:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-12-03 06:32:58 [post_content] => State of the service   Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd is a glass half full kind of guy. The Australian Public Service now has numerically fewer employees who are either indigenous or have a disability than a year ago – but the agency responsible for fostering and reporting on workplace diversity has still managed to extract a positive statistic to put the figures in a favourable light. That’s the scenario that comes with the release of the annual State of the Service report this week, the Australian Public Service Commission’s annual update on the progress and challenges of the federal bureaucracy that this year heavily rationed the way it delivered and displays official information and statistics. Like the public service, the annual report on it has been substantially shrunk and now weighs-in at slimline 63 pages from cover to cover with plenty of room for colourful big picture infographics favoured by consumer marketers over traditional tables of hard numbers. It might be more user friendly as a top-line read, but don’t bother digging around for the details to stand-up up carefully crafted claims like the representation of Indigenous people in APS rising over the past year. According to the State of the Service report “Indigenous people as a proportion of ongoing employees was 2.5 per cent in 2014, rising to 2.6 per cent in 2015.” Although the 0.1 per cent increase just scrapes over the positivity line, the actual number of Indigenous employees actually fell by 55 people according to the more nerdy APS Statistical Bulletin that lists actual headcount numbers rather than just percentages. According to the APS Statistical Bulletin there were 3607 Indigenous ongoing employees in 2014; that number that fell to 3552 in 2015. The most likely reason for the technical percentage increase in workplace diversity is that the public service as a whole shed a total of 5526 employees in the 2014 - 2015 financial year according to the Statistical Bulletin. Another way of looking the numbers is that proportionally fewer Indigenous public servants left their jobs than non-indigenous public servants, not exactly a feelgood statement. According to the Statistical Bulletin’s tables, since total public service numbers peaked at 167,339 in 2012, the APS has cut a massive 14,909 jobs to arrive at the most recent number of 152,430 – a number last seen in 2007. The Statistical Bulletin does firmly caution that its diversity data is supplied to agencies by individuals on a voluntary basis. “As with any large voluntary data collection, APSED [Australian Public Service Employee Database] data tends to under-represent the number and proportion of Indigenous Australians, people with disability, and employees from a non-English speaking background (NESB) in the APS,” it says. Even so, they are the same numbers from which the APSC extracts its percentages. To strictly compare apples with apples, the diversity data is based on ongoing APS employees. For 2015, the total number of ongoing employees came in at 136, 498. That’s 8930 fewer than 2014 when it stood at 144,888. There are also fewer people with a disability working in the public service. Yet the percentage movement on representation is also nominally positive . . . and eerily similar. “Representation of people identifying with disability in the APS is at 3.5 per cent, an increase of 0.1 per cent from 2014,” the State of the Service report says. However with disability it does acknowledge the actual numbers have retreated and the reason why “There has been a decline in the actual number of people with disability in the APS from 4,918 in 2014 to 4,778 in 2015. This is due to changes in the structure of the APS and the overall lower number of employees,” the State of the Service report says. That’s a net loss 140 employees with a disability – but still a boost for representation. Corruption overstated? One reporting topic the APSC doesn’t appear too happy about is the thorny issue of corruption. That could be because as employee numbers are falling, corruption numbers appear to be rising. Like productivity, the APSC seems to favour a tight conceptual definition of the term 'corruption' lest people become unduly alarmed over the full percentage point increase in “perceived corruption.” “The definition of corruption, which was changed in this year’s employee census, may have contributed to the increase in perceived corruption ―from 2.6 per cent in 2013−14 to 3.6 per cent in 2014−15,” the State of the Service report helpfully explains. “Similar to results from 2013−14, a large majority of employees witnessing corruption reported witnessing cronyism and nepotism.” The APSC has also taken a curious swing at what warrants corrupt behaviour after agencies told it that 100 of the 557 finalised Code of Conduct investigations for 2014-15 “involved corrupt behaviour.” That’s a little under 20 per cent. “The types of corrupt behaviour included inappropriate use of flex time; misuse of personal leave to undertake paid employment; conflict of interest on selection panels; theft; and misuse of duties to gain a personal benefit,” the State of the Service Report said. “The relatively minor nature of many of these reported matters may be inconsistent with what is understood in the community by the term ‘corruption’. Nevertheless, misconduct of this kind still warrants appropriate attention and action.” Appropriate is a relative term. Former NSW anti-corruption commissioner David Ipp has advocated for the creation of the equivalent of a Federal ICAC, an idea that seems to have mnore support outside Canberra than within it. The APSC stresses that it’s working hard on integrity. “The Commission is supporting the whole-of-government approach to integrity, including anti-corruption measures. Training in integrity and anti-corruption continues to be an element of the APS Leadership and Core Skills Strategy and associated learning programs,” the State of the Service report says. As for Open Data . . . it’s not mentioned once in the report. [post_title] => APS diversity stagnates, corruption up: State of the Service [post_excerpt] => APSC still paints rosy picture in new slimline report. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => aps-diversity-stagnates-corruption-up-state-of-the-service [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-12-03 19:32:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-12-03 08:32:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22344 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22301 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-11-30 17:16:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-30 06:16:52 [post_content] => Australian_banknotes_in_wallet   Even more disruptive strikes across key frontline areas of the Australian Public Service are firmly on the cards – and just in time for Christmas. The Community and Public Sector Union has revealed it is moving into urgent fundraising mode to financially support members who are stood down or lose pay while taking protected industrial action. The move to raise funds as a buffer to support CPSU members who lose pay during disputes is a strong signal that there is plenty more trouble ahead. It’s also an unambiguous message to the Turnbull government that strong responses such as those from Border Force which sharply ratchet-up financial pressure on public servants who are contemplating or taking part in legally authorised industrial action will not go unchecked. The union’s call for cash follows the recent move by Border Force’s management to use the upper-end of pay related sanctions to respond to partial work bans –a response has widely been interpreted as a test of resolve and staying power of CPSU members during the protracted APS-wide bargaining dispute. According to a CPSU bulletin to members, the fund raising tactic “is believed to be the first time a union in Australia has used civic crowdfunding techniques to fund strike pay.” While the online donation facility might be new, unions in the UK have for decades with great success used so-call ‘bucket’ appeals – where members or supporters conspicuously collect public donations in high traffic locations – to compensate for lost wages. “The Campaign Fund announcement comes as more than 500 CPSU members in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection prepare for another round of work bans from Monday 7 December targeting cargo and freight areas including ports, air freight terminals and international mail centres,” the CPSU said in a statement to members. “This action is expected to impact on goods entering the country including parcels, mail and cargo. When workers applied similar bans in October many were stood down by the Department without pay for up to five days.” The ongoing industrial action by Immigration and Border Protection staff is a potent symbol for the CPSU in its long-running dispute because it counterbalances previous attempts by the Abbott government to portray public servants as lazy, change resistant bureaucrats protecting their cushy, well paid jobs. The union’s trump card to date has been that staff at Border Force could lose as much as $8000 a year in take home pay under changes proposed in the new enterprise agreement. That position is a far cry from unions pushing for an unsustainable pay rise. “The people who protect our borders and provide critical public services are heading into Christmas with the threat of deep cuts to their rights and conditions hanging over them, while many in Border Force still face getting thousands of dollars slashed from their take-home pay,” CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said. “Our Immigration and Border Force members in particular have been in a lose-lose financial situation caused by Government. They have been foregoing pay to go on strike or be stood down as they fight the Government's continued attempts to cut the take-home pay for many by thousands of dollars a year, while all face losing rights and conditions.” Ms Flood also accused Public Service Minister Michaelia Cash and Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd of refusing to budge on workplace conditions, saying that after returning to the bargaining table “we have confirmed that not much has changed.” The latest pressure tactics aimed at the government follow the demotion by new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of right-faction aligned Public Service and Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz. Senator Abetz’s demotion was bookended last week by more house cleaning in the form of the resignation of the head of the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, Michael Thawley, who appears likely to be replaced by former Treasury chief Martin Parkinson. Although the Turnbull government is highly unlikely to buckle to CPSU pressure, it is still actively seeking to reset the relations with the bureaucracy, with a re-examination of workplace productivity centred around innovation rather than labour costs expected in December. A common theme privately raised by some senior public servants is that there are plenty of opportunities to reduce spending in non-productive areas such as duplicated or incompatible back office systems that require a small army of contractors and consultants to maintain. A Fairfax Media analysis over the weekend claims consulting and contracting costs across 18 major federal agencies have soared by a massive $205 million to eclipse wage bill savings of just $109 million, with costs associated with replacing the Department of Human Services’ legacy core payments platform soaking-up around $100 million. Abnormal items at Human Services aside, there are again renewed warnings over the potential to repeat the disastrous mass public sector outsourcing exercise of the 1990s that cast decades of corporate memory overboard and produced ongoing cost blowouts and declining service levels. The Assistant National Secretary of the CPSU, Michael Tull wasted no time in pouncing on the figures as fresh evidence that reliance on the so-called ‘Coalition-of-the-Billing’ to make up for big permanent job cuts was a false economy. “Arbitrary budget cuts force Departments to use contractors and consultants to replace workers who should not have been made redundant in the first place,” Mr Tull said. “The Government’s growing addiction to multinational consulting firms also raises questions about how much influence big corporate interests are getting over policy development. A properly funded public sector provides impartial advice that is absolutely in the public’s interest.” [post_title] => Striking public servants will harness "civic crowdfunding" says CPSU [post_excerpt] => Top-up for lost wages during stand downs. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => striking-public-servants-will-harness-civic-crowdfunding-says-cpsu [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-12-01 10:55:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-11-30 23:55:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22301 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22263 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-11-24 15:14:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-24 04:14:04 [post_content] => 57886-Canberra [Breaking Story] Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a trifecta of top public service changes, with the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Michael Thawley and Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Peter Varghese both exiting the bureaucracy. There is growing anticipation and credible but as yet unconfirmed reports that former Treasury chief Dr Martin Parkinson will replace Mr Thawley, whom Mr Turnbull said had expressed a wish “to return to the private sector.” Drew Clarke, who was the Secretary of the Department of Communications under the Abbott government will stay on as Mr Turnbull’s chief of staff having acted in the role after the leadership change. Mr Varghese leaves public service for academia in July 2016 and will become the Chancellor of the University of Queensland. The announcement leaves open three top public service leadership positions, vacancies that are likely to act as a catalyst for more changes as the increasingly popular PM puts his stamp on reforming the bureaucracy through encouragement rather criticism. That change sentiment was on clearly show, with Mr Turnbull saying he was “very pleased that Mr Clarke will bring his APS and policy experience to my Office.” Mr Turnbull paid conspicuous tribute to Mr Thawley. “I am grateful for Michael’s support as my Department Head and I thank him for his leadership of the APS,” Mr Turnbull said. Career diplomat and intelligence chief Peter Varghese’s substantial contribution was also celebrated by the PM. “Mr Varghese has had a distinguished career in Australia’s diplomatic service, with postings in India, Malaysia, Tokyo, Washington and Vienna, and as Director-General of the Office of National Assessments. I congratulate Mr Varghese on this prestigious new appointment,” Mr Turnbull said. Two senior positions which public servants across Canberra will now be watching carefully the wake of the breaking news are that of Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd and Department of Finance Secretary Jane Halton. It is understood that since the replacement of Mr Abbott by Mr Turnbull there has been a concerted effort from the top to reset the dialogue and focus of the public service away from a punitive campaign of cost reduction to boosting productivity and innovation to modernise the public service. Mr Turnbull said new appointments to the vacant positions “will be announced in due course.” [post_title] => PM&C chief Thawley out, Parkinson return still unconfirmed [post_excerpt] => Breaking News [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => turnbull-to-restructure-aps-chiefs-thawley-out-parkinson-returns [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-11-26 18:49:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-11-26 07:49:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22263 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21839 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-10-20 10:01:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-19 23:01:18 [post_content] => Acknowledged Reset   [Analysis] Momentum for a reset of the previous Abbott government’s hardline framework for enterprise bargaining negotiations across the Australian Public Service (APS) is quietly building after months of strikes and deadlocked negotiations. Productivity gains based on innovation and smarter working could soon potentially enter enterprise bargaining mix, as new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gradually spells out his expectations for a modernised, digitally enabled government and public service. At least that seems to be the hope of a growing number of senior federal and state public servants, not to mention industry. Behind closed doors there is cautious optimism that ideas for reform based on merit and evidence will be given a more open-minded hearing from the top when it comes to productivity and pay negotiations. The growing shift in sentiment comes after two years of cuts and bitter disputes over dilution of APS conditions and pay that have put the government and public sector unions at loggerheads. At the heart of the row is the narrow definition of productivity under the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy – which essentially mandates labour cost savings to the exclusion of other initiatives – and was chided by the Productivity Commission, prompting a sharp retort from Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd. Just where the APS Bargaining Policy is now headed given its previous chief protagonists Tony Abbott and Senator Eric Abetz have been catapulted from Cabinet is very logically open to question. One clue is there appears to be growing confidence that public servants prepared to bowl-up fresh and creative ideas focused on simpler, cheaper and more effective solutions to administrative and policy challenges will a genuine hearing further up the chain of command. The potential for innovation-based productivity enhancements could provide a much needed circuit breaker and a catalyst to kick-start moribund bargaining talks. The bottom line, some in the ranks of government and the public service say , is that there will be more a lot more on the table to trade if the definition of productivity is widened to include more than straight labour cost savings. There's also a sentiment that the narrow constraints of the bargaining terms represent a missed opportunity that can now be realised. As the Productivity Commission observed in August this year (much to the annoyance of the APSC) “exchanging entitlements for cash simply trades one form of compensation for another with little gain to either party (assuming the worker is compensated exactly for the loss of the entitlement) or to productivity.” “A genuine productivity increase requires a change in the way a public sector organisation uses its resources to better perform its core activities, including improved quality of its outputs. This relates more to the adoption of new processes and technologies, rather than simply working harder or changing the mix of entitlements in a worker’s overall compensation,” the Productivity Commission wrote. While there has been some nominal latitude given to departmental secretaries in terms negotiating with unions on productivity, the bulk of offers have produced little momentum other than boosting membership of the Community and Public Sector Union. One scenario put to Government News is that if an outcome or task can be performed using fewer people, in less time and using more efficient ways of working or technology, it makes more sense to put this into the negotiation mix rather than employers simply trying to extend working hours and strip out conditions. Conversely, trying to sell an effective pay cut is more likely to produce a ‘clock-watcher’ mentality that discourages public servants from exploring new ways to do their job better for the benefit of the public and the nation they serve. One public service veteran suggested that the core narrative of what the Abbott government expected from the APS was doomed from the start because neither the former PM or his former public service minister, Senator Eric Abetz, could bring themselves to link successful policy outcomes with good public service performance. But when things went awry – such as the damning Audit report into call waiting times at Centrelink – public servants roundly copped the blame irrespective of any frank advice they offered back to the government. Predictable enough, but the bitter aftertaste still lingers. Another clear sign that encouraging public servants to work smarter (rather than longer and harder) has moved up the management agenda is the return of the Digital Transformation Office into the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio, a location that suggests its role will be championed from the top. A key message from the DTO to the wider public services is that it wants to instigate change in cooperation with the public service rather than foisting it down from the top. Just as importantly, DTO has outwardly acknowledged that people join the Public Service to make a positive difference to society and the nation, even if the digital delivery of services has fallen well behind that of the private sector. The automation of many of the public sector’s most dreary administrative tasks – like manually processing forms or re-entering data from one system to another because of software incompatibilities – will undoubtedly free-up public servants to fulfil more productive and valuable roes; but it will naturally eliminate some positions in the process. The big question now is how the Community and Public Sector Union will respond to that in the event that public servants are asked to come up with ways to make their roles and workplaces more productive in consultation with their employers. It will be a very different conversation, and one unlikely to drive-up conflict and union membership in the same way Eric Abetz did. But it’s a conversation that still needs to be had. [post_title] => Is APS bargaining headed for a reset? [post_excerpt] => Restrictive definition of productivity under pressure. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => is-aps-bargaining-headed-for-a-reset [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-20 10:01:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-19 23:01:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21839 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21017 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-08-13 10:29:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-08-13 00:29:11 [post_content] => IMG_0407.jpg   Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd has laid out a challenge to younger public servants now rising through the ranks to overcome a culture of risk aversion, inertia and criticism and seize the reins of public sector reform. The frank call to action by the so-called ‘bureaucrat of bureaucrats’ came in the form of a keynote address to graduates of the Queensland University of Technology Business School’s Public Sector Management Program, a cohort that Mr Lloyd sees as the natural successors to ageing APS leadership heading for the exits over the next decade. It’s a clear sign that after a period of sustained job cuts and agency rationalisation, the Abbott government’s public sector point man wants younger, tougher and more ambitious talent in the top seats to prosecute a change agenda that will catapult the public sector into the digital age. Whether risk averse ministers share his passion remains to be seen. Notwithstanding, for resilient managers willing to step-up, Lloyd insists the jobs will be there for the taking. “It is an exciting time to plan your future career in the public sector,” Mr Lloyd said. “In the next decade around 50 per cent of current Senior Executives will be eligible to retire.” “This represents a significant 'changing of the guard'… I hope many of you will consider taking up the challenging roles as the next generation of government leaders.” A key focus of the Commissioner – who has the unpopular task of supervising enterprise bargaining negotiations that are now bogged down in widespread disputes – is that community expectations of government are increasing and changing like never before. John-Lloyd While a big part of that momentum has been driven by disruptive innovations in the commercial world like online transactions, the message for the next generation of public servants is not to lose focus on the role of government as a whole. “I look for a proven capacity to see the big picture, to see the links to other policy areas and to embrace change that advances policy objectives both in your own subject matter and beyond,” Mr Lloyd said. He also implored incoming mandarins not to be afraid to step-up and make a decisive and timely judgement calls – rather than trying to please everyone for the sake of keeping the peace. “Consultation is often required but this can be overdone. At times we have to be aware that we have to make decisions and get on with it. This may mean that not everyone agrees with a proposed course of action. Too often inertia in the interests of seeking agreement is worse,” Mr Lloyd said. Public service dysfunction is also in the crosshairs of the APSC chief. Mr Lloyd said he was now looking for people who could address dysfunction in a team or group. “Many agencies run into trouble when we are aware of dysfunction or poor performance and it is left to be addressed at a later date. It is our responsibility to make things work,” he said. Resilience, or being able to stick with “an idea, plan or policy through to a conclusion” is also high on the agenda for future public service leaders. Mr Lloyd said he was looking for “someone who is not easily deterred by criticism.” “Someone who is capable of telling decision makers that there may be better ways of doing things.” In terms of the future direction of the public service, Mr Lloyd made it plain that Australians now expected “government services that are delivered online, reflect individual circumstances, and are provided by the best and cheapest provider.” This was what the community “have become accustomed to when dealing with business,” he said. “Almost every week we are introduced to new ways of doing things. The changes are pervasive and affect numerous aspects of our existence. We have seen transformational changes in things like supermarkets, travel, communications and health care. Much of this is driven by new digital technology.” Watch this space. [post_title] => APSC Commissioner John Lloyd tasks graduate managers with change agenda [post_excerpt] => Resilient and risk aware public servants told to get busy. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => apsc-commissioner-john-lloyd-tasks-graduate-managers-with-change-agenda [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-17 11:48:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-17 01:48:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21017 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20511 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-07-07 11:33:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-07 01:33:07 [post_content] => Treasury Courtyard   The Abbott government has pounced on a breakaway band of Commonwealth agencies finally agreeing to contentious new pay offers as firm evidence that public servants need to compromise in their enterprise bargaining dispute -- but the main public sector union has other ideas. Employment and Public Servant Minister Senator Eric Abetz this week renewed calls for the Community and Public Sector Union to dump its claim for what he says amounts to a 12.5 per cent cumulative rise over three years after both Treasury and the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) signed up to their offers despite overwhelming rejections in larger agencies. In the case of the APSC, the deal that was offered to staff at 4.5 per cent is one the most generous to date because it locks in increases without trading away conditions or entitlements as has occurred in bigger agencies. While that deal has been logically interpreted as a new high water mark for the government’s willingness to soften its so far hardline stance, similar offers are yet to materialise in departments and agencies with large numbers of staff like Human Services, Tax, Defence and the new Border Force. At the same time, the deal at Treasury -- one of the least unionised government workplaces -- was largely expected to get over the line because the culture of the agency, which is regarded both internally and outside as holding somewhat of an elite position within the APS. Other agencies that have signed on to new enterprise agreements include the recently lowercase rebranded nbn, Comsuper and the Australian Office of Financial Management. Having hit the government with strikes that disrupted airports on the very day the new Border Force agency was officially stood-up, the CPSU is warning Senator Abetz not to get ahead of himself in terms of thinking that prominent but small compromises will yield greater results. “Minister Abetz may think his current offers - including stripping rights and conditions worth significantly more than 1.5 per cent and even cuts to current take home pay for thousands of workers - are responsible and realistic but I would suggest Immigration, Border Force, Centrelink and Medicare workers who have walked off the job in droves are sending rather a strong signal they don't agree,” CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said. “We have seen before a few agencies vote agreements up, while the bulk of the public service holds out for better, fairer deals. Treasury staff deserved better, but the Minister is fooling himself if he thinks a 58 per cent vote in Treasury reflects the feeling across the public service.” The union has even found a silver lining in the Treasury result, saying that the vote to reject the new deal (which it lost) “increased from 10 per cent in 2011 to 42 per cent in 2015” “Even in Treasury, we've seen a fourfold increase in opposition to a substandard agreement – the No vote has increased from 10 per cent in 2011 to 42 per cent in 2015. “That is hardly a ringing endorsement of the Abbott Government’s bargaining policy,”  Ms Flood said. “After a year of the Government holding up this pretence, it's time to sit down for a sensible discussion on resolving these issues.” [post_title] => APS pay truce dead despite new deals [post_excerpt] => Elite and boutique agencies move ahead. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => aps-pay-truce-dead-despite-new-deals [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-07-07 11:33:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-07-07 01:33:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20511 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20325 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-06-25 23:45:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-06-25 13:45:16 [post_content] => IMGP0432   It’s a paltry figure that has set tongues wagging about what unionised public servants might ultimately settle for in their year-long dispute with the Abbott government and its industrial hard man Eric Abetz. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has – in the middle of the biggest public sector industrial row for more than a decade – gently hiked its dues by 1.7 per cent for the 2015-2016 financial year. It’s a modest annual rise that few members are likely to object to, given the bare-knuckle negotiations that are looming over conditions and pay after a week of strikes that resulted in walkouts by tens of thousands of public servants across the nation. Unions, generally, aren't big fans of performance pay. Even so, the increase extracts between “15 to 55 cents per fortnight” per member according to the CPSU. The fee hike is being interpreted in parts of the Abbott government as a reflection of where the real waterline is when it comes to inking a new Enterprise Agreement for APS agencies. The logic (even if optimistic) is rudimentary: unions can effectively only push onto their member’s a fee increase that can be collected via a commensurate boosts in remuneration. Increases over and above pay rises result in even more money being extracted the pay of union members. “To ensure we can continue to provide the high quality support, advice and representation, the CPSU will be increasing membership fees by 1.7 [per cent] for the 2015/16 financial year, in line with long-standing Governing Council policy,” the CPSU said in a bulletin to members. “This change is based on movement in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which showed a 1.7 [per cent] increase in prices between 1 Jan 2014 and 31 Dec 2014.  CPI is calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).” That may be so, but the government’s negotiators are arguing a similar line when it comes to offering APS staff lowball pay increases that have been left in the dust by New South Wales settling on a 2.5 per cent public service-wide increase as major productivity uplifts from new technology kick-in. Conversely, the Abbott government has narrowly defined how productivity increases can be measured, primarily setting them out as labour cost reductions rather than increases in the output of individuals. The present negotiation approach has deeply frustrated younger, more progressive and ambitious sections of the Coalition who believe the public service can attract a broader range of talent from private industry that is more outcomes focussed and can impart much needed innovative or “agile” practices into agencies that would otherwise be too conservative to question existing models. A frequent complaint is that top talent is now drifting to state agencies because of the federal industrial malaise, and that the kudos of working for a Commonwealth agency has been badly diminished. Another major issue is that as Commonwealth pay rates stagnate, they become conspicuously less competitive with private industry over time, especially where technology and web-based skills are concerned. The fear is that that a readily available talent pool sufficiently hungry for success is being squandered as negotiations remained deadlocked. Meanwhile the CPSU, which has dined-out on understaffing problems at agencies like Centrelink that resulted in more than a quarter of calls to the agency getting the engaged signal, has broken down how it spends its own money. According to a spending chart more than 67 per cent of spend goes on “organising and member services.” It could be money well spent given that the CPSU has been reported as saying around 12,500 have joined it despite more than 17,000 public servants recently exiting Commonwealth employment. [post_title] => Federal public servants hit with union fee hike [post_excerpt] => Modest increase in price of solidarity. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => federal-public-servants-hit-with-union-fee-hike [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-06-25 23:55:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-06-25 13:55:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20325 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27775 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-07 14:08:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-07 04:08:42 [post_content] =>   The Australian Public Service Commission has released its updated guide to social media use by Federal public servants. The guide, Making public comment on social media: A guide for employees, leaves absolutely no room for employees to make critical comments of any of their ministers, superiors, or departments. Furthermore, it suggests public servants are liable to be disciplined even if they don’t promptly delete a critical post on their social media account by an outsider. First brought to light by a critical article in The Australian newspaper, the nine-page, 3,000+ word guide goes into some detail as to what is and what is not acceptable. Now listen up! “As members of the Australian community, Australian Public Service (APS) employees have the right to participate in public and political debate,” the document begins. “But this is not an unlimited right. APS employees have particular responsibilities under the Public Service Act 1999 that come with being employed as a public servant by the Commonwealth of Australia. In some cases, these responsibilities limit their ability to participate fully in public discussions, including on social media.” Criticism is a definite no-no. Whether it is the employee’s current agency, Minister, previous agency, or observations of a person, the guide is clear to begin with: “Criticising the work, or the administration, of your agency is almost always going to be seen as a breach of the Code. The closer your criticism is to your area of work, the more likely this will be.” The guide then goes on to warn that critical posts are not allowed after hours or in a declared private capacity, or even anonymously: “Even if you don’t identify yourself you can still be identified by someone else.” And just in case you’re wondering, your right to freedom of speech is, well, worthless: “The common law recognises an individual right to freedom of expression. This right is subject to limitations such as those imposed by the Public Service Act. In effect, the Code of Conduct operates to limit this right.” The commissioner responds The Australian Public Service Commissioner The Hon John Lloyd has responded to the detailed article published by The Australian newspaper, declaring it to be misrepresentative: “The use of social media by employees requires discretion and judgement,” he writes. “For this reason it is important that all employers, including those in the APS, ensure their employees clearly understand the expectations of their behaviour when they use social media. “The APSC consulted extensively with APS agencies and employees in late 2016. This consultation indicated that the policy settings did not need to change, but that current obligations were not well understood by employees. The CPSU encouraged its members to participate, and made a submission. “It is not more restrictive than previous guidance. Rather, it clarifies the parameters around what public servants can and cannot say, and should give greater confidence to APS employees when they are participating online activity. Submissions to the review indicated that aspects of the previous guidance was unclear and ambiguous, and that revised guidance should be simpler and easy to understand.” Straight from the Trump playbook: The Greens Greens employment spokesperson Adam Bandt MP slammed reports in The Australian that the Turnbull government will impose restrictions on public servants criticising his government on social media. "There must have been a few paragraphs missing from the leaked Trump/Turnbull transcript, because this latest crackdown on the public service is straight from the Trump playbook," said Mr Bandt. "If anyone challenges Trump, they get fired. Malcolm Turnbull, in his desperation to hang onto power, is trying to do the same. "Holding public servants responsible for what others post on their page is the stuff of the thought police. Your job shouldn't be in danger because someone shares a post on your page about marriage equality or action on climate change and you don't delete it. "This is a ruthless assault on freedom of speech that would make any demagogue proud.” The guide, Making public comment on social media: A guide for employees, is available here. [post_title] => Though shalt not criticise [post_excerpt] => The updated guide to social media use by Federal public servants has been released. 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John-Lloyd