Strike action in March / April

What is happening?

We are urging all CPSU members in eligible agencies to take strike action in late March and April to put pressure on the Government for fair new agreements.

Our preference has always been to negotiate reasonable outcomes, but if the Turnbull Government continues to refuse to talk to us about genuine proposals for a sensible solution, this strike action will be going ahead. The Turnbull Government must fix their bargaining policy mess so that departments can offer reasonable agreements that safeguard rights and conditions, while offering a reasonable pay offer.

Who is involved?

  • 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.

What’s it all about?

For almost two years, CPSU members have been campaigning against the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s harsh industrial agenda. This has been a tough and nasty dispute where managers and casuals have been used as strike breakers and members have been stood down without pay for imposing partial work-bans. At the same time hard-line Coalition figures including Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz and Michaelia Cash have launched regular public attacks on public workers and their union. The Government’s antagonistic approach means many members have not had a pay rise for almost three years.

What is at risk?

The Government’s APS bargaining policy is still forcing agencies to:

  • Remove many consultation rights which give workers a say about changes and the opportunity to be represented by their union.
  • Move rights out of agreements and put them into unenforceable policy, where Government can alter or remove them at any time.
  • Remove family friendly provisions from many agreements, making it harder for working mums and dads to make a living and care for their families.
  • Cut real wages by freezing workers’ pay and banning back pay despite the massive bargaining delays.

What’s the CPSU plan?

We know this is a tough campaign but we have a plan to win the best outcomes we can and with your support we are stepping up our campaign. Our strategy involves:

  • NO votes against flawed agreements: Despite enormous pressure from agencies and Government and slick costly 'Yes campaigns', the overwhelming majority of APS workers have so far refused to accept deals that cut important rights.
  • Protected industrial action: CPSU members in many agencies have already taken significant action, particularly those working in strategic areas such as international airports.
  • Community campaigning: CPSU delegates and members have door-knocked in many communities alongside the ACTU and other unions, talking to voters about protecting public services and the people who deliver them. We are also campaigning strongly through social media and traditional media.
  • Direct lobbying of politicians: In recent weeks dozens of CPSU delegates have descended on Canberra to take their concerns about bargaining directly to Opposition and crossbench members. We have also written to Government.

Are we making progress?

Yes. Strong action from members throughout the campaign has helped secure important wins on issues like superannuation and productivity measurement. Ultimately the Government changed its Bargaining Policy in October 2015 and we were able to fight off some cuts to conditions including leave, HDA and increments. This significant development also led to a small move on pay and partial restoration of a number of important rights over the last three months including consultation, representation, performance management, working hours and pay rights, in some agencies.

So far in 2016 we are seeing more agencies being allowed to restore conditions. This movement has been enough to see staff in a handful of agencies narrowly - and often reluctantly - vote up agreements.

Are we there yet?

No. Workers in agencies such as DHS, ATO, Defence and DIBP still face a harsh attack on their rights, with the Government giving no indication it will move voluntarily. Around 85% of public servants are still refusing to sign up to new agreements, despite immense pressure from their employer. Almost 130,000 workers still don't have a new agreement in place.

What can I do to help?

  • Support the action: If you are in an eligible agency, you need to support the industrial action. It is very important to send the strongest possible collective signal to the Government and your agency. By supporting the action you are showing that workers will not be bullied into giving up important rights and accepting low pay offers. The work you do for the Australian community is valuable, the Government should properly value it.
  • Support the campaign fund: We will be asking CPSU members, members of other unions and the general public for financial donations to our Campaign Fund. Donations will enable us to offer some support to members at international airports who are facing serious pressures from taking extra and extended rolling strike action over the past year and during the coming Easter holidays. All money raised right now will go directly to workers taking this extra strike action. Find out more and donate.
  • Join the union: if you are not yet a member. Call the CPSU's Member Service Centre on 1300 137 636 or join online


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