Brief History

Updated 22/06/2023

It's hard to fit 137 years of achievements into a brief summary - but we gave it a shot anyway.

In the Beginning

The first meeting of CPSU, (then known as the Victorian Public Service Association) took place on 17 June 1885 when 1,000 colonial public servants crammed into the Athenaeum Hall in Collins Street.

We already had 1900 members prior to this first general meeting.

Ever since that meeting CPSU has worked towards improving the terms and conditions of employment of Victorian Government employees.

Early Claims

In the early days of the Union our claims included:

  • The establishment of an independent Appeals Board
  • Protection for temporary officers
  • Long service leave
  • The living wage - an adult male rate 21 yrs rather then 26 yrs
  • Sick leave

A History of Improving Conditions

1916 we campaigned for and won the passage of the Political Rights Bill. which ensured that it was no longer a criminal offence for public employees to chair and speak out at meetings, ask questions of political candidates, or to join a political party.

1918 we took the first step towards gaining equal pay for equal work when a case was won to improve the pay of women teachers from 1/3 of the male rate to 4/5.

In the 1920's we won fortnightly pays, ceasing the payment of public employees on an annual stipend

1926 Superannuation was first established as an entitlement by the Union and backdated to 1924. Paid sick leave of 6 days per year was also won

1936 the Union won its members the right to cumulative sick leave and the principle of a Higher Duties Allowance

1937 the Union fought for a 5 day working week

1945 the Union won members the right to 2 weeks annual leave

1951 members entitlements to annual leave were extended to 3 weeks

1962 the case for equal pay for work of equal value was commenced before the Public Service Board

1963 Long Service Leave was successfully improved from 6 months after 20 years to 4 months after 15 years service

1969 the union finally achieved its equal pay claim - introducing 85% of the male wage as of 5th October 1969 for female rates of pay and 100% from 1st January 1972

The early 1970s - Paid maternity leave was achieved during this period

During the 1970's and 1980's over 50 general salary revision claims were made as well as the establishment of a number of state and federal awards covering statutory authorities

1973 the union succeeded in increasing annual leave to 4 weeks

By the early 1990's all that had been achieved was under threat with the election of the Kennett Government. Individual contracts of employment [Victorian] were introduced, State Awards abolished, annual leave loading removed, access to arbitration requiring employer consent

On 11 December 1996, the AIRC delivers its arbitrated decision establishing an Interim [VPS] Federal Award including retrospective annual leave loading to 4 March 1994, and a 10% wage increase with 7% retrospective to 25 November 1995.

Throughout 1997 to 1999 the re-elected Kennett Government pursues individual contracts of employment and non-union Certified Agreements available in the Federal system following the transfer of industrial relations powers.

In September 1999 the Kennett Government loses the majority of seats in Parliament at the General Election and in October 1999 the ALP wins a by-election caused by the death of a Liberal sitting member on polling day enabling Steve Bracks and Labor to form a Government with the support of three [3] Independents.

On 31 March 2000, the AIRC delivers its arbitrated decision establishing a MX [VPS] Federal Award which includes a retrospective 9.5% wage increase to 30 March 1999 amongst other improved conditions including an additional 8.2% pay increase for Correctional Officers.

In July 2000 and in November 2001, CPSU negotiates Agreements with the new Bracks Government reviewing PS pay [inc. performance pay] and classifications policy while delivering 4% to 4.5% pay rises per annum to employees.

In March 2004, CPSU negotiates a new 43 month Agreement delivering 13.5% pay rises in addition to the progression payments under the new VPS Career Structure(s). The Agreement consolidates all previous AWA & s.170LK conditions of employment into a single service wide document while raising standards where previous entitlements had been ripped away.

In March 2006 CPSU exercises its extension option to replace this Agreement to enshrine all entitlements for a further 7.5% wage increase prior to Work Choices.

In May 2009 CPSU wins another 5% and further varies and extends our comprehensive service-wide Agreement under new federal laws therefore protecting all entitlements and Career Structure(s).

In November 2010 a new Coalition Government is formed and bargaining is delayed but CPSU successfully involves the federal Fair Work Tribunal and in July 2012 a further 14.5% is awarded with $1,500 cash payment flowing to 40,000 PS employees following a protracted legal and industrial campaign with the new Baillieu Coalition Government with the new agreed Child Protection Practitioner arrangements given life with the outcome flowing to our Arts and Parliament nexus Agreements covering almost 40,00 employees.

In December 2015 a new heads of Agreement is signed with the Andrews Government that delivers a 13.76% pay increase over the next four years with commitments to rebuild capabilities in the Service and invest in the public sector workforce inc. a further review of classifications. New agreed Community Corrections Practitioner arrangements are included as well as significant advancements to parenting, ATSI, Christmas shut down and domestic violence leave arrangements.

In March 2020 another heads of Agreement is reached with the Andrews Government just prior to Covid-19 lock downs that deliver improved salaries and new conditions over the next four years including salary increases with mobility payments between 13%-13.5% over 48 months (20 March 2020 – 20 March 2024). Of this, 6.75% in increases will occur in the first 18 months. The mobility allowance is a cash payment (OTE) and is calculated at 1.25% of the pay rate at the top of a Value Range/Grade.  As ordinary time earnings the payment is Superable and will occur on 1 July each year.  Improved entitlements include an increase in the night shift rate, improved parental leave including superannuation on unpaid parental leave up to 12 months, and increased primary carer’s and/or secondary carer’s leave to 16 weeks with more flexibility with how leave can be taken.

These Agreements set the new benchmark for all future CPSU bargaining representing the end of more than two decades of struggle to re-establish a career Public Service within the jurisdiction of an independent Tribunal.

CPSU Today

Over a century later the CPSU continues its task to protect and improve conditions of Victorian Public Sector employees.

Many of the entitlements won by the CPSU in the past are taken for granted by employees today, but they didn't appear out of thin air.

Protect the wins of the past and contribute to the improvements of your own employment in the future.

No one wants to return to the days of the annual stipend.

Associated labels