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Wednesday, 02 March 2016 23:04

Defence workers warn of rights stripped: engineering, science and technical

Images of 'defence' at Pixabay Images of 'defence' at Pixabay

Defence workers announced they have ‘voted down a wage offer from the Department of Defence that threatened workplace conditions’ that strips relevant workers of key rights.

Not only do the works say the wage offer ‘threatened workplace conditions’, but that the offer also ‘failed to deliver a fair pay rise and threatened the nation’s ability to meet the future workforce challenges in defence.’

Professionals Australia said the Agreement would have ‘stripped the engineering, science and technical workforce of key rights and conditions and damaged the defence industry’s ability to attract and retain a highly skilled workforce – a priority identified in last week’s Defence White Paper.’

David Smith, ACT Director of Professionals Australia said: “The recently released Defence White Paper made it clear that the skills and expertise of our defence workforce are vital to ensuring Australia’s defence capability.”

More below, please read on. 

Last week, the Defence White Paper stated that Defence wants to become an ‘employer of choice’:

“As Defence adopts new and more complex capabilities, the demands on the integrated workforce will increase. New technologies will require new skills and will rely even more than now on the diverse range of skills of the integrated workforce.”
-Chapter 6, p 146

“This agreement would have compromised our ability to meet this workforce challenge, by undermining workplace conditions and seeing wages flat-line.

“A week after the launch of the Defence White Paper this is a massive vote of no confidence in this Government’s approach to agreement making from working people and their families across Defence. The Prime Minister and Minister for Defence need to show leadership by junking the current bargaining framework and committing to fair and reasonable negotiations with this critical workforce.

“The most important resource for defence is our skilled workers. It is vital these professionals are recognised and rewarded for the key role they play in developing Australia’s defence capabilities and maintaining our national security.

“We have negotiated in good faith for more than 18 months, during which time workers have not received a pay rise and there has been no provision for back pay. Without back pay, the department’s offer of a 6 per cent pay rise over three years is a much lower figure.

“On top of this, the department is trying to remove existing rights from the agreement, making workplace conditions subject to policies controlled and implemented entirely by management.

“This would open the door to the erosion of key workplace conditions and make it impossible for workers to seek resolution of disputes over performance management from the Fair Work Commission.

“By stripping rights and conditions from workers, the department will be sending a strong message to those considering a career in the industry that their skills and expertise will not be adequately rewarded.

"If we want to lead and innovate in this industry we must make sure attract and retain a strong, highly-skilled workforce. Cutting worker’s conditions is not the way to do this.

“The department needs to come back to the negotiating table with an offer that properly recognises and rewards defence workers, and secures our defence capabilities,” concluded Mr Smith.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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