Grace delays EBA sign-off

THE Palaszczuk Government wants to delay certification of Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs) for thousands of public servants, arguing secret Cabinet deliberations still under way could impact on their operation.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace wrote to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on Friday advising she will intervene to seek an adjournment of proceedings listed for today to certify proposed agreements for the Department of Education, State Government Entities and Stadiums Queensland.

It follows a decision to freeze pay rises for all public servants for the 2020-21 financial year and discussions with unions on how to action this policy, considering EBAs with built-in increases are already in place for many workers.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace. Picture: AAP/Darren England
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace. Picture: AAP/Darren England

"The Queensland Government is currently considering its economic and fiscal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which impact upon a number of industrial relations matters for Queensland's public service," Ms Grace's letter reads.

"These are unprecedented circumstances and I seek the adjournments based on these considerations and their implementation within the Queensland public sector.

"These matters are currently the subject of Cabinet deliberations and are Cabinet in confidence."

She wrote that it was already public knowledge that the Government was committed to its 2020-21 public servant pay freeze.

"Adjourning these matters will allow these deliberations to be concluded and for the Government to apprise the Commission and parties on how the outcome of these deliberations may impact proposed certified agreements in the public sector," Ms Grace wrote.

The Minister wants the matters adjourned until at least June 22 but refused to say why yesterday.

The Government also refused to answer questions on whether Cabinet was considering any further industrial relations matters for the public service beyond the year-long pay freeze.

Meanwhile, public servants will have their working hours overhauled as the Government works on its COVID-safe return-to-work plan.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed the Government had been speaking to department heads about "structured return to work hours".

"So people would still do their full complement of hours but they would either start much earlier or finish much later so we're not actually making the public transport system congested," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"But honestly we do not have the issues here in the south east that you would see in areas such as Melbourne and Sydney."

It's understood the Government will make further announcements later this week, which could include dates at which public servants are expected to return to their workplaces.

Ms Palaszczuk said federal advice was still that people who could work from home continue to do so.

It comes as businesses across the country put in place their own COVID-safe plans amid concerns restrictions pose real practical issues, such as maximum numbers allowed in lifts meaning people could take hours getting up to their high-rise offices at some workplaces.

Originally published as Grace delays EBA sign-off



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