Australian Federal Police uses computer pop-up to influence pay negotiations

Australian Police

Something for the weekend: Negotiating a new pay deal agreement with employees can involve the input of a trade union, as well as numerous communications between all of the involved parties to iron out the finer details. The Australian Federal Police (AFP), however, took a different stance when it introduced a pop-up window on an internal criminal investigation database which advocated why affected police officers should accept its proposed deal.

The pop-up message, which had to be acknowledged before it could be closed, encouraged police officers to accept a proposed enterprise agreement. The message was displayed on an internal computer system in the run up to the trade union Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) official member ballot on 10 July 2017.

The pop-up box sought to highlight the key points of the proposed enterprise agreement. It read:


I get a pay rise now

I keep my leave entitlements

I get paid for the hours I work”

The message also looked to deter AFPA members who would be voting from refusing the deal. It said:


I don’t get a pay rise now

My current enterprise arrangement still applies

Bargaining process will recommence”

According to the AFPA, the pop-up message was removed within four hours.

The final vote on the enterprise arrangement resulted in 80.88% of members refusing the proposed pay deal, in alignment with the recommendation from the AFPA. The participation rate was 87.2%.

The trade union stated on its Facebook page: “We do not believe support for the proposed [enterprise agreement] is in the best interests of members of the AFPA.

“This strong result gives us a clear mandate to go back to the AFP and firmly defend the rights and conditions of our members.”

Angela Smith, president at the AFPA, said: “I am continually being contacted by members who are expressing concerns about both the way AFP is relaying information to members and about the agreement itself. Late last week, the AFP used an operational computer system to push their industrial message.

“At face value, this was a blatant misuse of a key internal criminal investigative system that was quickly abandoned after our association and our members questioned the ethics of this approach. This type of management tactic has contributed to a growing sense of unease among our members.”

Here at Employee Benefits, we can see how these pay negotiations may have strayed into murky digital waters. Hopefully the AFP and the AFPA will reach a mutual agreement soon.