DHS workers rally for better pay, conditions

By Rosa Ellen
Updated November 6 2012 - 7:33pm, first published December 6 2011 - 11:58pm
PROTEST: Department of Human Services workers rally in front of the Queen Street DHS office over wages and conditions.

ABOUT 60 Department of Human Service workers rallied in front of Bendigo’s Queen Street DHS offices yesterday, protesting pay and conditions in the state government’s wage deal.The rally, organised by the Community and Public Sector Union, called for higher wages in line with Victoria Police’s 4.5 per cent wage increase. The group, which included workers from child protection, youth justice, housing, health and disability, wore white campaign T-shirts and held banners protesting the 2.5 per cent pay deal offered to public sector workers as well as conditions for child protection workers.Union spokesman Julian Keneally told the rally $3 million had been withheld from workers as a result of the protracted negotiations, that could have gone back into the Bendigo community.“It’s not good faith to have a fixed position of 2.5 per cent and say we will only negotiate on our terms,” he said.While the sector-wide wage rise offer is 2.5 per cent, some frontline child protection workers will receive pay increases of between 5.91 and 17.54 per cent.But worker Brennan O’Brien, who has been a support worker in child protection for 16 years, said the offer depended upon a restructuring of pay levels.“There are winners and losers in the new model... They’re effectively offering something and then they’re going to add 2.5 per cent to make it a little bit more attractive.“The reality is people want safe case loads.”Mr Keneally said other public sector workers, including those at the Department of Sustainability and Environment and the forensic services centre, who work with the Victoria Police, were also fighting for a pay rise above the government’s below-inflation offer.Conciliation talks in Fair Work Australia continue today, with child protection workers discussed tomorrow.The government would not comment on the action.