Media Releases

APS workplace relations statement

May 10, 2019

Labor is committed to building a public service that can properly deliver the essential Government services our community relies on, offers frank and fearless advice to Government, and has fair workplace conditions and rights. 

Labor is all too aware of the consistent attacks that the Australian Public Service (APS) has seen under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government, including wage freezes, attempts to strip hard-won conditions, regressive workplace relations and the progressive tightening of the APS bargaining framework. 

The Liberals have deliberately moved to cut the pay and working conditions of staff, reducing the living standards for many workers while undermining the operational capacity of the APS to deliver on its objectives. 

Unlike the Government’s approach, we believe real wage increases underpinned by productivity growth and delivered through fair and genuine negotiations – not cuts to conditions or rights – are more important in ensuring a dependable APS workforce able to deliver on a Government’s objectives. 

Labor will have an approach to enterprise bargaining and workplace relations that actually improves the capability of staff and provides fairness in the workplace, work-life balance and secure, meaningful jobs.  

This is an approach that does not force agencies to strip rights and conditions. 

Labor would aim at reducing the fragmentation of APS pay and conditions and addressing over time the inequities resulting from the Liberals’ cuts, anti-worker policies and bargaining chaos.  

Labor would undertake genuine service wide negotiations on pay and common conditions with agency specific conditions negotiated at the agency level.  

Developing the first service wide move towards fixing the Liberals’ bargaining mess is a major undertaking that would first require some preparation time in government.  

Prior to commencing service wide bargaining, Labor would consider what interim arrangements may be required and how these would be taken into account in service wide bargaining.  

Labor will never use industrial blackmail or draconian policy to delay workers receiving a pay rise, believing this is wrong and understanding that APS workers and their families face the same pressures as other working families. 

This Labor approach to fair and productive workplace relations is underpinned by our commitment to the rights of workers to union representation and the right to organise and bargain collectively.  

Labor will restore the workers’ rights removed by the Liberals. 

Labor has developed a suite of polices in relation to the APS, including: 

  • Abolishing the arbitrary average staffing level (ASL) cap; 
  • Reining in wasteful spending on contractors and consultants; 
  • Not proceeding with the remaining 0.5 per cent additional efficiency dividend next financial year; 
  • Adding 1200 new permanent and full-time Department of Human Services (DHS) staff; and 
  • Reducing spending on travel across the public service by 10 per cent. 

Our policies will improve efficiency in the APS, end the Liberals’ wasteful spending, and boost service delivery and jobs.