The Guardian 17 August, 2005

Public servants win collective deal

Thousands of public servants have rejected an AWA-driven cam­paign to undermine their wages and conditions. CPSU (Community and Public Sector Union) members at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) secured an in-principle deal, last week that will maintain their access to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and deliver on average 16 percent in wage increases, over three years.

The agreement came eight months after their last EBA expired and followed a campaign of sporadic industrial action.

CPSU spokesperson, Stephen Jones, said the agreement was "very pleasing" and hailed the role of delegates and activists in rolling back the department’s politically-motivated campaign.

"It’s clear public sector workers are going to have to fight for their rights at work. If we are strategic and determined we can win." During the 12-month stand-off, the CPSU accused the DEWR or running its Minister Kevin Andrews’ anti-union agenda.

The department initially rejected a union agreement but workers responded by overwhelmingly voting down its non-union alternative. DEWR made AWAs compulsory for new starters, despite Prime Ministerial assurances that workers would be able to choose between collective agreements and government-favoured secret, individual contracts.

The final sticking point was its refusal to allow staff to put workplace disputes before the Industrial Relations Commission for resolution.

DEWR folded on that position last week.

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