BoM management attempt to gag staff

Bureau of Meteorology management attempt to gag staff after forecasts used to highlight five-year pay freeze

Management at the Bureau of Meteorology has imposed new rules around the broadcasting of weather forecasts and social media posts after staff used official communications channels to inform the public of their ongoing five-year wage freeze.

As part of the latest round of protected industrial action, which commenced yesterday, messages including “#BOMonSTRIKE”, “#5yearpayfreeze”, and links to a union petition were inserted in weather forecasts and social media posts on the Bureau’s official channels.

Management responded to the action by imposing what they described as “additional quality control”, requiring an additional level of checks before forecasts are transmitted along with a system that will require an administrator to review all social media posts.

Live radio crosses have also been stopped in some areas after weather forecasters notified management they would be reading an authorised statement to let the public know about current situation.

The Community and Public Sector Union said the heavy-handed response by management was an extraordinary overreaction to staff taking part in legally-protected industrial action.

“The public deserve to know why the hardworking employees of the Bureau – the people who bring them vital weather information every day – have been forced to endure a wage freeze for nearly five years, simply because they refuse to sacrifice working conditions,” CPSU Deputy Secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said.

“Our members do this work because they know it is a valuable community service, but five years without a pay rise while their cost of living continues to climb is hurting them and their families.

“After three votes that overwhelmingly rejected management’s sub-standard offers and a refusal by management to take part in a conciliation process through the Fair Work Commission, our members have been left with no choice but to seek public support to resolve this protracted industrial dispute.”

Ms Vincent-Pietsch said the previous workplace agreement covering BOM staff expired in June 2014.

“After four years of negotiations, we have managed to claw back much that was under attack,” she said.

“But the Bureau refuse to move on key conditions that other agencies have restored.

“BoM’s refusal to offer a fair deal to their workforce makes it one of a very small number of Commonwealth agencies that have not been able to successfully negotiate a new enterprise agreement.

“Rather than sit down and talk about how this increasingly bitter dispute can be resolved, management have instead gone to the extraordinary lengths of attempting to gag employees from taking part in lawful industrial action.

“This is further evidence that Australia’s workplace laws are broken and that the rules need to be changed.

“We need a system that brings management and employees together to deliver fair and just outcomes, rather than the current situation where the Bureau has used a wage freeze to try to force employees to sacrifice important conditions.”