One of the government’s last remaining workplace disputes has ended after Federal Court staff voted for a new enterprise agreement following four years of negotiations.
96 per cent of public servants who voted, supported the agreement with a “yes” vote after the Community and Public Sector Union recommended they accept the offer.
The successful vote comes after previous votes rejecting offers, 43 rounds of protected industrial action, and bitter negotiations.
CPSU deputy national president Rupert Evans described the result as a “bloody nose” for the Coalition government’s workplace bargaining rules, but said the deal was far from perfect.
“As a result of the tenacity, commitment and hard work of our members, we were able to reach a point where the union could, on balance, recommend that staff support this agreement.”
“While it is still far from perfect, this agreement will deliver significant gains, in particular for approximately 60 per cent of staff who will have improvements to their working hours and better redundancy and redeployment entitlements.”
Mr Evans said that while the agreement would deliver pay increases of 5.5 per cent to all employees within 18 months, it still amounted to a wage cut in real terms compared to inflation given Federal Courts employees have endured a four-year wage freeze.
Staff at the Federal Court rejected an offer in June last year with a 90 per cent “no” vote to an agreement that offered an average pay rise of 1 per cent for each of three years, cuts to conditions and entitlements and, for some, a longer working week.
The voted down the next proposed agreement in November, 69 per cent to 31 per cent.
Strikes during the impasse caused significant disruption in the courts by forcing registries to close and delaying hearings.
Public servants were negotiating a single agreement after the Federal Court of Australia’s merger of administration with the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court in 2016.