Baird Gov't Breaches ILO Bargaining Conventions

  • 5 March 2015

Since 2011 the New South Wales Government has acted in contravention to a number of fundamental conventions of the Internal Labour Organisation with respect to the treatment of its own workers and their right to collectively bargain. 

Under the Industrial Relations Amendment (Public Sector Conditions of Employment) Act 2011, NSW public sector workers are denied the rights all other workers in Australian take for granted, the right to collectively bargain for a wage increase above inflation and to secure basic entitlements like redundancy pay in their Award. 

The regime put in place by the NSW Government is in breach of Australia’s legally binding commitment under Convention 87 – Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, and Convention 98 – Right to Organise and Collectively Bargain. These conventions as ratified by 153 and 164 Countries.

Alongside conventions on forced and child labour, discrimination and equal pay, these conventions form the fundamental rights at work that the international community is committed to upholding.

This complaint lodged jointly by the PSA, the CPSU and the ACTU shows that the NSW Government will go so low as to brake international labour conventions in order to carry out its attacks on the wages, conditions and jobs of public sector workers.  These laws have not only hurt public sector workers in NSW but have had a ripple effect through the NSW job market and our communities.

When the largest employer in the state passes laws that supress wages to below inflation, it is no surprise that salaries across the state stagnate as well.  When the largest employer in the state passes laws that make it easier for them to lay off workers it is no surprise that unemployment across the state rises in sync with the 15,000 public service jobs that have been cut.

Unlike any other employer the Government is both a legislator and an employer.  It is bad faith in the extreme for the Government to use its role as legislator to strip away its obligations to its workforce as an employer. Government employees are citizens and deserve the protection of the state not to have their rights undermined and stripped away by their employer.

After four years of suffering under these laws public sector workers have had enough.

We call on the ILO to accept this complaint and investigate in full the conduct of the NSW Government.



  1. Australia is a member of the ILO and has ratified conventions with respect to Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
  2. As a signatory to those Conventions the Australian Government has undertaken to ensure that labour laws in Australia comply with them. We have been forced to make this complaint because the actions of the New South Wales Government do not comply with Australia’s international obligations
  3. The conventions provide definitive guidelines for the operation of labour law in Australia