Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Public Servants Fight Back

Today, The Canberra Times carried another article on the issue of workloads for public servants. This is an issue which is unlikely to fade from the radar as the human resource issues bubbling away in the Australian Public Service continue to emerge - high turnover, efficiency dividends, recruitment problems, changes to terms and conditions following the election of Labor, and increasing deamnds from both political masters and the community.

What was interesting about the latest installment in this ongoing issue was the comments by the head of the Australian Public Service Commission, Lynelle Briggs. Briggs was quoted as saying, The cumulative weight of efficiency dividends over the past 20 years or so has been enormous ... and that in combination with only partial funding of salary increases in the public service, together with the things we're asked to absorb, has taken a big toll.''

Briggs argued, ''I think if the Government wants good policy advice with some carefully nuanced perspectives on where to go, then people need time to have a break ... the alternative is that we continue to work at this rate and we get used to it. But if the Government is going to do that they're going to have to pay us more. It's as simple as that.''

The Community and Public Sector Union has mounted similar arguments and is gearing up for a "major campaign" against the government as the combined effects of arbitrary efficiency dividends, increasing demand for services, and downward pressure on salaries looks like creating a very unhealthy work environment indeed.

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