The Victorian branch of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has officially entered enterprise bargaining season, with a bid for a 20% pay rise over four years and an option of a four-day week, plus a right to flexible work, extra leave, and a boost to 17% superannuation.
Details of the union’s claims lodged last week reveal Victorian public servants are seeking a “20% pay increase over life of the Agreement, structured as 4 annual pay increases (7%, 5%, 4% and 4%) to recognise current cost of living crisis.”
In addition, the CPSU is seeking a “4-day work week across different VPS worksites within the life of the Agreement, based on the 100-80-100 model: 100% of pay, 80% work hours, 100% production.”
Also included in the claim is an “additional week of annual leave, i.e., 5 weeks, or 6 weeks for eligible shift workers” plus “pro-rata additional leave for any Sundays that are worked above 10 Sundays a year.
“In the event that a 4-day work week is not achievable for shift workers, an additional week of annual leave should be granted,” the claim by the Victorian branch of the CPSU says.
On the flexible work front, the CPSU’s claim essentially mirrors that successfully sought by the federal branch, at least if an agreement can be come to. In essence, where practicable for both parties, work-from-home becomes a right rather than a privilege.
The first biggy is an extension as per the Fair Work Act to “extend specific circumstances to include pregnancy and family and domestic violence.”
Then there’s a claim to create an “explicit right to flexible work arrangements for workers, instead of right to request,” plus a confirmation that the “onus is on [the] employer to demonstrate why work cannot be performed flexibly.”
“What constitutes reasonable business grounds,” in terms of denial is also on the table as is a specific right to flexi-time “unless operationally cannot be provided”.
On the overtime front, casuals are a strong focus.
The Victorian CPSU is going for a tighter definition of overtime for casuals plus a reduction in “time worked before double-time overtime is paid from three hours to two” and the creation of a “new payment to compensate workers where overtime is cancelled at short-notice” and “an additional meal payment for every 5 hours worked.”
For parental leave, there’s a bid to increase this to 26 weeks plus an “additional week of pre-natal leave for supporting partner” plus a move to “ensure paid leave reflects pay inclusive of shift penalties and allowances, not just base rate of pay.”
In May, the Victorian CPSU publicly slammed then-premier Dan Andrews and the Labor government for resorting to a mass cull of public service jobs to pay down state debt incurred under COVID, saying the retrenchments defeat the very purpose of borrowing money to save jobs.
The VPS faces the loss of 4,000 “back office” staff to save $2.1 billion.