17 May 2016

LNP government hardly even pay lip service to aboriginal workers

Aboriginal Hostels reject 'pathetic' public service pay offer
DateMay 16, 2016 - 7:37PM

Noel Towell
Reporter for The Canberra Times

CPSU deputy secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch has labelled the offer "pathetic". Photo: Graham Tidy
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Hundreds of Aboriginal public servants have decisively rejected a wage proposal of half the amount available to bureaucrats in other government departments.

Workers at Aboriginal Hostels Limited, which is two-thirds Indigenous-staffed and the lowest-paid agency in the Commonwealth, have been offered a pay rise of just 1 per cent a year, while other public service outfits have been offered 2 per cent a year.

But the AHL offer was crushed in a workplace ballot last week by a margin of 95 per cent.

Public servants at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra have also voted to reject a new pay and conditions deal, while an agreement has got over the line at the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.

Aboriginal Hostels' main workplace union, the CPSU, said the result was the right reaction to the "pathetic" offer.

"This overwhelming rejection by AHL workers shows what a pathetic offer management had put on the table, framed by the Turnbull government's failed public sector bargaining policy, even compared with the dud deals that have been voted down easily in other Commonwealth agencies," CPSU deputy secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said.

"AHL staff play an essential role in efforts to Close the Gap for Indigenous Australians, providing a critical link for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access services that most Australians take for granted.

"This offer would have actually widened that gap, providing a measly pay offer in an organisation that has the highest percentage of Indigenous staff of any public-sector agency.

"To put the scale of this injustice into perspective, more than half of AHL workers are on the lowest Australian Public Sector employment classification and are paid only $43,000 a year."

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