Public Service Union Says Recruitment of Government Staff Should be Re-Nationalised

The Commonwealth Public Service Union (CPSU) says the federal government should reinstate the Commonwealth Employment Services (CES) and put an end to the outsourcing of employment to recruitment agencies. The CES existed prior to 1998, when the Coalition government, under Prime Minister John Howard, privatised the bureau to a large number of community-based providers to “ensure good quality services for job seekers and value for money for taxpayers.” The CPSU claims the result was “a handful of multinationals” ended up dominating the recruitment space and are now making enormous profits “while failing to deliver outcomes for job seekers and local employers looking to hire new staff.” “This system is like an old car that keeps breaking down, but instead of changing models, governments have just kept pouring money into trying to patch it up,” said CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly. “Since 1998, successive governments have thrown huge amounts of public money at employment service providers, and what do they have to show for it? A toxic relationship with job seekers, wasted taxpayer money, limited support for local businesses wanting to hire new staff, and huge profits for a handful of private providers who are failing to deliver. “It is a broken system that we need to replace.” Donnelly is calling on the Albanese government to start insourcing employment services and create a new CES. “It would rebuild capacity and capability within the [Australian Public Service or APS], it would allow the Commonwealth to play a direct role in shaping labour market changes and responding to immediate and future policy challenges and economic priorities,” she said. The CPSU draws its membership from the APS and internalising recruitment—which would likely be staffed by CPSU members—would provide a major benefit to the union in terms of member numbers. CPSU’s New Demand Comes After Rejecting 10.5 Percent Pay Rise The call comes as the CPSU remains locked into wage negotiations with the federal government after rejecting a 10.5 percent pay rise offer from the Albanese government—the largest offer to the APS in 10 years. The union voted overwhelmingly to reject the deal, with 86 percent of the 15,000 members saying no. The CPSU instead, is calling for a 20 percent pay rise over the next three years—funded by the taxpayer—with public servants receiving a nine percent pay rise in the first year, followed by six percent in the second, and five percent in the third. The CPSU’s Donnelly said in a media statement obtained by that union members wanted a “fair deal.” “They want to see the government bring a pay rise to the table that acknowledges what they have endured over the past decade, one that takes steps to address the attraction and retention crisis, and one that will go some way in easing current financial pressures.” Yet economists have long argued that using mandated wage rises to counteract problems like inflation, will only trigger more price rises and demands for higher wages (the inflation-wage spiral). Instead, the focus should be on galvanising economic growth through measures like cutting regulation and lowering taxes. “The fact that’s not being discussed means they might come up with a few little ideas that are nice in the short run, but they’re not fixing the underlying problem,” said John Humphreys, chief economist at the Australian Taxpayers Alliance, in a previous interview with . Albanese Government Looking to Reform APS Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher, herself a former CPSU organiser, announced on May 9 that the Albanese government would try to reform the APS. “The Albanese Labor government is making the necessary investments in the 2023-24 Budget to continue the job of rebuilding the service after ten years of neglect under the former Coalition government,” Gallagher said. “The APS performs a critical role in our democratic system, it should be valued by the government and be focused on serving our citizens.”

Public Service Union Says Recruitment of Government Staff Should be Re-Nationalised

The Commonwealth Public Service Union (CPSU) says the federal government should reinstate the Commonwealth Employment Services (CES) and put an end to the outsourcing of employment to recruitment agencies.

The CES existed prior to 1998, when the Coalition government, under Prime Minister John Howard, privatised the bureau to a large number of community-based providers to “ensure good quality services for job seekers and value for money for taxpayers.”

The CPSU claims the result was “a handful of multinationals” ended up dominating the recruitment space and are now making enormous profits “while failing to deliver outcomes for job seekers and local employers looking to hire new staff.”

“This system is like an old car that keeps breaking down, but instead of changing models, governments have just kept pouring money into trying to patch it up,” said CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly.

“Since 1998, successive governments have thrown huge amounts of public money at employment service providers, and what do they have to show for it? A toxic relationship with job seekers, wasted taxpayer money, limited support for local businesses wanting to hire new staff, and huge profits for a handful of private providers who are failing to deliver.

“It is a broken system that we need to replace.”

Donnelly is calling on the Albanese government to start insourcing employment services and create a new CES.

“It would rebuild capacity and capability within the [Australian Public Service or APS], it would allow the Commonwealth to play a direct role in shaping labour market changes and responding to immediate and future policy challenges and economic priorities,” she said.

The CPSU draws its membership from the APS and internalising recruitment—which would likely be staffed by CPSU members—would provide a major benefit to the union in terms of member numbers.

CPSU’s New Demand Comes After Rejecting 10.5 Percent Pay Rise

The call comes as the CPSU remains locked into wage negotiations with the federal government after rejecting a 10.5 percent pay rise offer from the Albanese government—the largest offer to the APS in 10 years.

The union voted overwhelmingly to reject the deal, with 86 percent of the 15,000 members saying no.

The CPSU instead, is calling for a 20 percent pay rise over the next three years—funded by the taxpayer—with public servants receiving a nine percent pay rise in the first year, followed by six percent in the second, and five percent in the third.

The CPSU’s Donnelly said in a media statement obtained by  that union members wanted a “fair deal.”

“They want to see the government bring a pay rise to the table that acknowledges what they have endured over the past decade, one that takes steps to address the attraction and retention crisis, and one that will go some way in easing current financial pressures.”

Yet economists have long argued that using mandated wage rises to counteract problems like inflation, will only trigger more price rises and demands for higher wages (the inflation-wage spiral).

Instead, the focus should be on galvanising economic growth through measures like cutting regulation and lowering taxes.

“The fact that’s not being discussed means they might come up with a few little ideas that are nice in the short run, but they’re not fixing the underlying problem,” said John Humphreys, chief economist at the Australian Taxpayers Alliance, in a previous interview with .

Albanese Government Looking to Reform APS

Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher, herself a former CPSU organiser, announced on May 9 that the Albanese government would try to reform the APS.

“The Albanese Labor government is making the necessary investments in the 2023-24 Budget to continue the job of rebuilding the service after ten years of neglect under the former Coalition government,” Gallagher said.

“The APS performs a critical role in our democratic system, it should be valued by the government and be focused on serving our citizens.”