Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 2 2014 Contents By Darryl Johnston
THE Defence Enterprise Collective
Agreement (DECA) bargaining round will
be tough, according to the Acting Director
General of People Policy and Employment
Conditions, Chris Chamley.
Chris points to the reform agenda across
Government and financial constraints on
the Public Service as major factors in the
“It makes our jobs very challenging,” Chris
“We want to work constructively and
respectfully with employees and their
representatives, acknowledging there are
going to be things people won’t be happy
“What we expect to be able to deliver will
probably fall short of employee expectations
based on previous agreements. That is
reflective of the wider financial environment
both the Government and the Public Service
are operating in at the moment,” he says.
“The Government’s Budget position is well
documented publicly. Now the Government
has released its bargaining parameters that
apply to all APS agencies, including Defence,
the challenge we face is clearer, especially
the emphasis on demonstrable productivity.”
Chris leads a small team managing the
process of developing pay and conditions
under the 2014+ DECA. The team has been
drawn from the Defence Workplace Relations
Unit and its members are well versed in
industrial and workplace relations.
More broadly, they sit in the Defence People
Group in the People Policy and Culture
Division, led by Richard Oliver.
“They all have extensive experience in
agreement making and APS personnel policy,
and some have experience in agreement
making from their time in other agencies.
That is a real strength and will be of benefit
as we work with the unions and staff to make
the new agreement,” Chris says.
“All APS employees will be covered by the
same agreement. They will all get to vote on
The Director of APS Workplace Relations,
Louise Memmolo, manages the team.
“Many of us are long-serving members of the
APS and Defence,” Louise says.
“We are in the same boat and understand
the frustrations and concerns raised in each
She agrees this is an especially challenging
environment in which to be conducting
negotiations for wages and conditions.
“Compared to other agencies, Defence is
large, diverse and geographically dispersed
so it’s a real challenge to go through the
negotiation process. Add a difficult economic
environment and it makes a challenging job
even more difficult,” Louise says.
Chris adds that, because the workforce
is so diverse and dispersed, everyone’s
expectations of what to include in the DECA
are very different.
“What an engineer wants out of the DECA is
sometimes quite different to what a finance,
HR person or scientist wants. We try to
manage all their expectations under one
agreement,” he says.
Up to nine different unions are party to
the current DECA and are expected to be
involved in the new bargaining process.
Employees are advised early how they are
represented and can apply to participate in
the negotiations themselves.
“For an individual to be involved in
bargaining is quite a big step,” Louise says.
“There are requirements under the Fair Work
Act relating to good faith bargaining which
puts a pretty equal responsibility on anybody
who wants to participate to consider all
proposals that are put on the table.
“In the past, very few individuals have
participated in the bargaining process as
staff in Defence have generally chosen to
allow the various unions to represent them.
This is mostly the case for APS staff more
widely across the APS. ”
The length of bargaining process can vary,
according to Louise.
“It depends on what is up for negotiation
and how far parties are apart. In previous
agreements, there have been about half a
dozen bargaining rounds before it is taken to
a vote. It depends on how discussions go.”
Chris and Louise encourage Defence APS
employees to get on board the DECA
DECA negotiations a
Government reforms and financial constraints are expected to make the
DECA bargaining round a real challenge for all sides at the negotiating table.
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