Strikes to hit public services from Monday

The CPSU has warned of possible disruptions at Government departments including at international airports, as members across the Commonwealth public sector launch a new round of strikes next week to show their growing frustration with the Federal Government’s attack on existing rights in bargaining.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ignored the CPSU’s requests for urgent talks to fix his Government’s bargaining mess, leaving the union with no choice but to proceed with the strikes.

The action begins on Monday, March 21 with an all-day strike by staff in key Commonwealth agencies including Medicare, Centrelink, the Tax Office, Defence, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Bureau of Statistics.

That will be following by weeks of rolling strikes at international airports over the Easter school holidays and beyond, including a 24-hour strike across the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

DIBP has been formally notified of rolling strike action by Border Force officers at international airports and elsewhere, starting on March 22.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “These large-scale strikes reflect the incredible frustration being felt by people working in the public sector. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ignored our offer of talks to fix the Government’s public sector bargaining mess, so serious industrial action will begin on Monday and continue in airports for a number of weeks .”

“Striking workers are targeting the politicians and bosses who continue to treat them with contempt, but these rolling strikes may have some impact on the public, particularly at international airports. As with previous action at airports, we would advise passengers to contact their airline for information on whether they will be effected, and allow extra time when departing and arriving on international flights.”

“These workers have suffered through two years of unreasonable attacks on their rights, yet the Government’s harsh bargaining policy is still forcing managers to cut essential rights and conditions, or move them out of agreements into policy so they can be unilaterally scrapped down the track.”

“Among the most disturbing cuts that the Government refuses to take off the table are the removal of essential family-friendly conditions in many agencies that allow people to juggle their work with their parenting and other responsibilities. This retrograde attitude even extends to refusing to add domestic violence leave to agreements in dozens of agencies, showing the Government is trying to push its workers in the opposite direction to the private sector.”

“The Government’s unfair attack is even worse for some, with some of the Border Force officers who’ll be striking at airports and elsewhere still facing actual cuts to their take-home pay. Workers are being asked to cop losing a raft of rights in return for a two-year wage freeze and then a low-ball offer of 2% a year after that.”

“The extent of this mess is underlined by the fact that after two years more than eight out of 10 people working in the public sector still don’t have a new agreement. Major agencies have categorically rejected the Government’s agenda, many multiple times, with recent rejections including 85% No at the Tax Office, 81% No in Immigration and Border Force and nearly 80% No in the Department of Human Services.”

“Repeated strike action is tough on families, particularly after a two year wage freeze, which is why we established our Campaign Fund to crowdfund financial support, particularly for those Border Force officers who’ve bravely remained on the front line in this dispute.”

“There's not a single major private sector employer in the country who seriously expects workers to accept losing a raft of rights including family friendly conditions, let alone doing that after 18,000 job losses and in return for a two year wage freeze then 2% a year. There's certainly not one who has a two year dispute with more strikes looming and won't even talk about a resolution. Our message to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Michaelia Cash is simple: you are out of step and it's time to fix this mess of your own making, by sitting down to discuss a more sensible bargaining policy that treats public sector workers with respect.”

Media contacts: 

  • Simon Frazer - 0409 493 290
  • Dermot Browne - 0408 265 081

Who is striking?

  • APS wide strike on 21/03/16: 24-hour strike action by eligible members in a range of APS agencies including AAT, ABS, ATO, BoM, Defence , DHS, DPS, Education, Environment, GeoScience, IP Australia, PM&C and Synchrotron.
  • DIBP & DAWR strike on 24/03/16: 24-hour strike on Easter Thursday by members in Immigration, Border Protection and Agriculture including at international airports.
  • Rolling airport stoppages: DIBP members including Border Force members will undertake several weeks of extended rolling stoppages, with action commencing after the APS strike on 21 March at international airports.