Budget Reprioritisation focus must be on employees
The Government decision in their budget to impose up to a 10% cut across the VPS would mean about 4,000 jobs were at risk with employees to be made redundant.
CPSU has campaigned relentlessly to protect services and jobs and was concerned about the approach being proposed to deliver these cuts.
The rhetoric this time did not reflect the consultation requirements in our EBA's, nor the BPEC (Best Practice Employment Commitment) principles, nor the focus of the agreed workforce transition policy from 2020/21.
The Workforce Transition Policy had been developed to guide Departments in managing any workforce transition needed to deliver the reorganisations arising from the 2021/22 Budget with the primary focus on workforce planning and mobility, opportunities for employees to be deployed to support changing government priorities, complemented by enhanced opportunities for specific and extended training to facilitate mobility through the Jobs and Skills Exchange.
The approach being advanced this time did not also heed the lessons of budget failures from the past, being the negative impact compulsory redundancies have on service focussed organisations, and on both the staff that are forced out and the ones who stay, and on the political party proposing it.
The Government sought to meet with the union and presented us with a proposed new policy that was focussed primarily on Targeted Separation Packages.
CPSU reminded government that they had a commitment to us under the BPEC linked to our VPS EBA's that focussed on mobility, early retirement, training, and job matching.
Similarly our EBA's contain clauses that underpin job security.
CPSU advised that the tabled document was in breach of those provisions and we have sought a more comprehensive approach to managing the budget reprioritisation that focussed on the employees, not the budget bottom line.
There are employee vacancies everywhere across most program and policy areas of government.
We have had this new government policy proposal for two weeks now and have sent comprehensive suggestions across to ensure it is employee focussed.
These discussions are not designed to achieve agreement but to ameliorate the policy the government wants to introduce.
What is the policy the Government proposes?
The policy following our representations now makes it clear that these documents (our EBA's, BPEC and Workload management) are the overarching ones to be followed as part of the move by Department employers to reprioritise resources.
These enforceable documents ensure staff in affected areas are not treated as a mere commodity but as a person who has contributed to the delivery of State services, and who therefore should be treated with respect.
Our discussions have focussed on job matching, skill acquition and transfer/mobility from lapsing funded programs to the new priorities within and across the affected departments.
CPSU has sought to;
- reduce external advertisement for jobs to give members the best opportunity to stay employed if that is what they want.
- prevent the use of labour hire and consultants in VPS work. This is still under discussion as the guidelines they wish to rely on are currently too wide.
- ensure that JSE is the primary source of advertisements for all vacancies and that external advertisement will only occur in areas exempt or quarantined from the cuts.
- funding is provided to facilitate skill acquisition through short course training.
- that compulsory redundancies be the last option and not the first.
Further, departments must give consideration to the economic hardship of staff and the gender impact of any program under this arrangement before decisions are made.
The guiding policy for Departmental employers must adhere to our EBA's, the BPEC, OHS laws and associated policies such as Managing Workload.
That policy is supposed to be time limited. Concluding in March 2024. The Health Secretary's revelations last week may change this.