The federal treasury department has announced its entire staff will have to reapply for their jobs to cut numbers by 40 – even mothers on maternity leave.
A July 14 letter from Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson explained he had “decided that an involuntary redundancy process will involve all Australian Public Service (APS) and executive level classifications, with the aim of reducing current operative employees by … 40 [full time equivalent]”.
Parkinson recognised an involuntary redundancy process was “unprecedented for the Treasury” and said it had been a “very difficult” decision.
The letter revealed even staff on leave without pay, maternity leave, study leave and secondment would need to reapply although these “inoperative staff” were “not factored into the 40 FTE target”.
Only staff on term contracts, temporary transfer from other agencies or those who already accepted voluntary redundancy would be exempt.
The letter noted at July 1, 2014, 22 staff had accepted voluntary redundancy, five below Treasury’s estimate. It brought the total number of redundancies since 2012 to 133.
Parkinson said the workforce profile was “generally right”, so redundancies would occur at every classification to “broadly maintain that shape”.
Parkinson acknowledged soon-to-be-sacked staff were “not ‘numbers’, they are people – our friends and colleagues” and accepted the process would cause “a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety for all staff”. “With this in mind, we have committed to completing the involuntary redundancy process as timely and efficiently as possible,” he said.
He estimated the process would be complete by mid to late August.
Parkinson said the senior executive service would have to reduce by another 10% and that included involuntary redundancies if there were not sufficient volunteers.
CPSU, Labor blast involuntary redundancies
Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) deputy national president Alistair Waters said the ‘spill and fill’ was “heavy-handed and unnecessary”.
“It has never been done in Treasury before and risks doing long term damage to this important agency,” Waters said. “Treasury can and should be doing more to help retain these workers in the APS.”
Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said the Abbott government had broken a promise that public sector cuts would not include forced redundancies. “Worryingly, this includes women who are currently on maternity leave and new graduate employees,” he said.
Leigh said women on maternity leave “have a right to return to [their] job”. He called on the govt to “comply with the spirit of this law and guarantee that no Treasury worker who is currently on maternity leave will be forced into involuntary redundancy through this process”.
(First published in Workforce 19254, 31 July, 2014)
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