The context for APS bargaining

Last updated: 21 Dec 2016

This page is: current

Bargaining policy Q&A

Download the MS Word version of this page.

What are the Government's key interests in bargaining?

The Government has always had three key interests in this bargaining round:

  • affordable remuneration increases and agreements;
  • improving workplace productivity through the removal of restrictive practices; and
  • support for an employee's right to freedom of association.

These are being driven by current economic circumstances. The Government's objectives will provide modest but fair wage increases without placing undue pressure on the federal budget. They will also help APS agencies more readily adapt in a rapidly changing environment, while continuing to support the needs of employees.

Why is the Government bargaining like this?

The federal budget deficit has been widely reported. There has not been a budget surplus since 2007. The 2016-17 Mid-Year Financial and Economic Outlook has outlined a further deterioration in the budget position.

These circumstances are unlikely to change for some years. The budget forecasts predict that deficits will continue until at least 2021. This means that very tight agency budgets will continue to be a feature for the foreseeable future.

In this context, the Government cannot offer higher across the board pay increases, back pay or sign-on bonuses.

Australia is experiencing significant changes in our economy and labour market. Public sector workplaces need to respond more quickly and flexibly to the demands of the public and the Government. This is why the APS exists. It is what the APS is expected to do.

APS employees are very committed to the important role they play in supporting the Australian community. The recent State of the Service Report highlights this. Employees understand that the APS is not immune to changes. Goods and services are becoming more tailored and are being delivered in new and innovative ways. The APS needs to continually change to meet the needs of the community around it.

The large shifts in the Australian economy and the changing nature of work will continue over the coming decade. This is why APS workplaces need to have the flexibility to adapt quickly in this rapidly changing environment. This can be achieved while still ensuring a suitable work-life balance for employees.

Why hasn't the Government changed its bargaining policy?

The Government has changed its bargaining policy during this bargaining round. It did this in November 2015. The revised policy increased the remuneration offer to an average of 2% per annum, it relaxed requirements about some of the content that can be included in agreements and it streamlined approval processes.

Other APSC fact sheets deal with this in more detail.