ADF Pay - Military pay backlash predictable, says Remuneration Tribunal

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Noel Towell, Reporter for The Canberra Times 10 June 2015

Pay rise locked in, but it will not be backdated, meaning ADF personnel will miss out on $25 million in wages.The backlash from

Australia's military rank and file against the Abbott government over wages was entirely predictable, according to the Military Remuneration Tribunal.

The official pay body published its final wage determination on Tuesday for the nation's 57,000 men and women in uniform and included some scathing remarks on how the process was handled.

 The government was forced to reverse its position twice after sailors, soldiers and air force personnel mounted a grassroots campaign against moves to cut conditions and entitlements and what was described as an "insulting" pay rise of 1.5 per cent a year.

The eventual position was locked in this week by the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal, which also confirmed the pay rises would not be backdated, meaning ADF personnel will miss out on $25 million in wages.

The two government backdowns came after a spirited campaign led by the Australian Defence Force Welfare Association, which mobilised an online backlash from the families of ADF members, with the military personnel themselves barred from taking industrial action.

With crossbench politicians and veterans' groups later joining the campaign, Prime Minister Tony Abbott was forced to intervene to limit the political damage the row was doing, and increasing the wage deal to 2 per cent a year.

The three-person tribunal wrote on Tuesday that it was quite predictable that the initial proposal, which was well below inflation forecasts at the time, would foment trouble in the ranks.

 "In our opinion, prior to the Workplace Remuneration Arrangement first being agreed, it was known or could reasonably have been expected that there would be dissatisfaction with the quantum of the increase," the tribunal wrote.

 "Although we accept the consumer price index has not traditionally been determinative of the quantum of increase (nor should it be) nonetheless it could not have been a surprise that the below CPI quantum of pay increase in the WRA would be criticised."

 Labor's shadow parliamentary secretary for defence Gai Brodtmann, who also campaigned against the government's position, was critical on Wednesday morning of the failure to backdate the pay rises.

 The Canberra MP also noted the nation's fighting men and women would have to make do with a pay rise smaller than that recently awarded to workers on the minimum wage.

 "Backdating the increase to 12 March instead of the beginning of the WRA does not provide the promised 2 per cent per annum over the life of the agreement," Ms Brodtmann said.

 "On 2 June, the Fair Work Commission awarded a 2.5 per cent increase to the minimum wage, confirming the insult this government has inflicted on the men and women of the ADF."

 

ADF Pay DFRT Decision - ALP Statement

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WORST FEARS CONFIRMED FOR ADF PERSONNEL

ALP Statement from Gai Brodtman MP, Shadow Parlaimentary Secretary for Defence.

The Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal has confirmed that Australia's servicemen and women will not have their pay increase fully backdated.

After public backlash over the Government's unfair Australian Defence Force pay offer of 1.5 per cent, the Prime Minister promised to increase ADF pay by "two per cent per annum, over the life of the agreement, with effect from the next pay day." (Media release, 4 March 2015.)

However he only promised to backdate the pay to 12 March this year, not to the start of the ADF Workplace Remuneration Arrangement, which came into effect on
6 November 2014.

Backdating the increase to 12 March instead of the beginning of the WRA does not provide the promised 2 per cent per annum over the life of the agreement.

On 2 June, the Fair Work Commission awarded a 2.5 per cent increase to the minimum wage, confirming the insult this Government has inflicted on the men and women of the ADF.

In handing down its decision yesterday, the Tribunal criticised the Government's handling of the ADF pay debacle, stating the negotiations "should not serve as a good precedent for future WRAs".

The Tribunal was also critical of other aspects of the ADF pay fiasco, stating that in the past "WRAs have tended to be at least equivalent to the CPI" and that "it could not have been a surprise that the below CPI quantum of pay increase in the WRA would be criticised."

The whole ADF pay debacle has caused a significant amount of unnecessary stress and concern for our ADF personnel and their families

Labor will continue to stand up for the pay and conditions of ADF personnel.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Media Contact: Claire Wheaton 0422 370 036

ADF Pay - DFRT Decision 9 June 2015

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The Tribunal's decision and rationale for it is fully detailed here. It briefly summarises the DFWA submission at para 18. While we welcome the 2% outcome, we are disappointed that the Tribunal did not backdate the full amount to take effect over the life of the Arrangement, from 6 Nov 2014.

The Tribunal's argument was that it had no power or discretion to vary the agreement between the Commonwealth and Defence on that issue. We will continue our representations to seek to change the provisions of the Act that place limitations on the DFRT in dealing with such applications.

We believe the ADF members and their spouses will be disappointed at the decision which has the additional 0.5% effective from 12 March 2015. For WRA Years 2 and 3, the 2% indexation dates will apply with effect from 5 November 2015 and from 3 November 2016.

Beware of False Prophets

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 It pays not to listen to Lambie

Ross Eastgate - Townsville Bulletin - April 02, 2015

SOME readers may recall a time when ADF personnel were paid in cash plus a cake of soap and two free razor blades thrown in.

There may even be survivors of such experiences who now claim confronting a paying officer armed with a loaded pistol may have triggered long-term traumatic consequences.

There was usually a payday raffle to boost unit social funds with modest prizes for an equally modest ticket price.

Pay was rounded down to the nearest whole dollar while in PNG soldiers received their entire pay credit to the exact cent.

For younger readers, these were small copper coins in one and two cent denominations, quite useful when at the later payday happy hour you could quite confidently have three pots and be guaranteed change from a dollar.

Oh, the payday happy hour was a quaint fortnightly gathering at which all members of a unit were encouraged to socialise with each other while consuming alcohol.

With logic unfathomable to expatriate minds, PNG soldiers would often request a ticket in just one of the raffle prizes on the basis they already possessed whatever was on offer as the others.

It was illogical of course, though not to them and they could rarely be convinced to change their mind even when the flaw was pointed out to them.

It's a bit like attempting to follow that curious logic which presents as Senator Jacqui Lambie's political philosophy.

On Tuesday the senator announced she would apply to form her own political party, The Jacqui Lambie Network, which as its name implies is more about personality than sustainable policy.

Like her private members bill linking ADF pay to CPI or politicians' pay, whichever is higher.

One assumes she means "increases" in CPI or politicians' pay, though in Senator Lambie's case one should never assume.

The bill passed the scrutiny of the current senate and typically Senator Lambie has threatened dire consequences to lower house members who dare reject it.

"Already in desperation to distract, the Liberal's (sic) are spreading lies about my Bill saying it will result in a pay cut — which are clearly untrue," the senator said in a predictably convoluted press release.

ADF pay recommendations are the prerogative of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal, and the senator's attempt to automatically link pay adjustments to other determinants runs the risk of adverse outcomes she has clearly not considered.

Still, her sponsorship of the bill and the senate's acceptance have caused some excited comment in the defence community by those who think it will result in more generous pay outcomes.

More inquiring minds have cautioned otherwise.

Lambie's stunts and threats promote herself and her political ambitions but rarely achieve positive outcomes.

ADF pay and conditions are too important for such self-serving antics, and it is up to all serious ex-service organisations to lobby for tangible improvements with those who posses real political power to make positive change.

Those who follow the Lambie prescription will inevitably find themselves short changed without a prize.

'Violation and betrayal': Low pay offer hurt ADF's fighting edge, say ADFA academics

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The Abbott Government's low-ball military pay offer last year might ultimately cost the nation success on the battlefield, according to academics at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

A new scholarly article says the "sense of violation and betrayal" felt in the military may have hurt the Australian Defence Force's morale, loyalty to its uniform and even its fighting edge.

Three ADFA instructors said there is evidence the pay offer, branded a "joke" and a "disgrace" by serving ADF members damaged the "psychological contract" between 57,000 our men and women in uniform and the force they serve.

READ MORE of Noel Towel's article in the Canberra Times

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