After FWC statement on arbitration, C'wealth must do the right thing by Home Affairs workers

Late yesterday, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission issued a statement about their intended course of action in the Department of Home Affairs Workplace Determination arbitration.  

The statement provided for wage rises of 4% initially and then 3% after one year, but did not provide for backpay to compensate for the delays caused by the Turnbull Government’s bargaining policy and the Department’s hardline approach to their staff.  

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said ‘Over 13,000 Home Affairs staff and their families haven’t had a pay rise in five years, so it’s good that the Fair Work Commission knocked back the Commonwealth’s outrageous proposition on pay. The Commonwealth tried to argue that Border Protection workers contribute nothing to productivity and don’t all deserve a pay rise, and in fact tried to cut some of their allowances and take home pay.’  

Ms Flood said ‘The Commonwealth has thrown every possible legal obstacle to prevent hardworking staff from reaching a fair deal, so it’s pretty tough that there’ll be no backpay to help these workers and their families deal with the bills that have been stacking up while their incomes have been frozen for five years.’  

Because of the Turnbull Government’s bargaining policy, bargaining in most Commonwealth agencies took more than four years to settle. The Department of Home Affairs is the only Department that was even able to access arbitration through the Fair Work Commission, after the Commonwealth applied to terminate industrial action at international airports.  

Ms Flood said ‘We have done the best we can under current laws, but it’s simply not good enough. This process is an absolute indictment of the Turnbull Government’s bargaining policy, and it is a disgrace that Malcolm Turnbull and Michaelia Cash have spent years fighting to stop hardworking border protection staff from simply being able to keep their current conditions and pay. It is very clear that the rules are broken.’  

‘The Full Bench of Fair Work has asked the Commonwealth to consider making this pay rise now. The CPSU calls on the Commonwealth to act fast to give these workers some relief. We also hope that when the rest of the decision is released, the Full Bench consider making sure that workers at least maintain their take home pay, including allowances, penalties and other provisions.’