You have probably seen DECA News 30 – this bulletin responds to some of the commentary/propaganda in that bulletin. In terms of who is willing or not to negotiate the truth is captured in my email below this one which went to the head of the Defence management negotiation team. It’s important to remember that that team is there to represent the Secretary (and the Minister) and their capacity to bargain is constrained by them.
It went on the 27th of May but has not received a formal response other than an acknowledgment of receipt.
As our response makes clear we are ready to be involved in negotiations when Defence has the capacity to properly negotiate.
So why has Defence sent out DECA News No 30?
There are likely to be two reasons for this bulletin to have gone out.
Firstly, it’s because of the pressure that was placed on the Secretary to become involved in negotiations last week from your involvement in national actions and secondly it’s a crude attempt to shift the blame for the stalling of negotiations
This week the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal updated the ADF WRA to provide for outcomes of 2% per year with some backdating of the initial outcome from an initial 1.5% per year.
In doing so the Tribunal wrote:
“In our opinion, prior to the workplace remuneration arrangement first being agreed, it was known or could reasonably have been expected that there would be dissatisfaction with the quantum of the increase”.
“Although we accept the CPI has not traditionally been determinative of the quantum of increase [nor should it be], nonetheless it could not have been a surprise that the below CPI quantum of pay increase in the WRA would be criticised.”
The position which Defence has on the table at the moment is well short of the initial ADF position of 1.5% per year before consideration of offsets (it’s less than 1% a year). When you include the offsets it’s a position that is less than zero, in some cases considerably worse than that figure. In particular it erodes the value of the EL1 classification – a critical level in engineering and science organisations.
1.5% per year was clearly an unfair outcome for our colleagues in uniform. A position that is effectively less than zero and doesn’t address critical skills issues is even less fair.
It’s time that the Minister stepped in and treated the whole Defence workforce with fairness and respect and the Department shouldn’t try and shift responsibility for the delays in negotiations.
Please distribute this across your broader professional and regional Defence networks. We don’t have the capacity to send out all staff emails like the Department but you have the capacity to get out our message far and wide.
Please click below for bulletin:
For more details please contact David Smith
Dear (Name deleted – the head of negotiations isn’t responsible for the delays)
Firstly, my apologies for not being able to attend the National Workplace Relations Committee (NWRC) last Friday.
It was useful for us to have a discussion about your correspondence the day before. I have talked to Jeff Vesely, our representative at the NWRC, and Mike Nicolaides from the AMWU about discussions relating to bargaining and the First Principles Review that took place during the NWRC. It seems to me that there is a significant disconnect between the two processes.
As we conveyed in our communication to Mr Oliver we are ready to resume negotiations/discussions as soon as Defence has the capacity to properly negotiate. There is little point providing additional responses until you have the capacity and scope to consider such proposals and has sought relevant approvals to do so from the Minister for Defence. To date when we have put some initial counter proposals such as in relation to proposed changes to executive level hours and the provisions surrounding professional development they have been rejected.
My understanding is that at this time the Department does not have approval to properly negotiate outside the restrictive terms of the bargaining framework. In these circumstances it would be an inappropriate use of the resources of the Commonwealth to hold negotiations that would knowingly not be able to proceed.
This agreement process should be a priority for the Secretary. It’s not good enough for him to effectively tell staff in town hall meetings that the offer is poor and there is little he can do. He needs to be more actively involved in the process, including being at the table in negotiation sessions rather than remaining at arm’s length from the process.
As I suggested during our telephone conversation we are prepared to pencil in some dates for bargaining but we will not come back to a bargaining table unless there is a clear understanding that those at the table have the capacity to properly negotiate on all matters.
I am copying this correspondence to Mr Jeff Vesely, Mr Mike Nicolaides and Mr Evan Walton.
Australian Government Group