Australian government employees across different departments around the nation have begun conducting a series of strikes due to failed pay negotiations.
The Department of Education, the Bureau of Meteorology, the defence department, the GeoScience Department, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Bureau of Statistics, the tax office, Centrelink and Medicare are among those that will be affected by such a move taken by its staff members.
The Community and Public Sector Union said that they have tried their best to achieve required pay negotiations but were disappointed to see their two-year efforts yielding no results to date. CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said that the federal government was making working conditions stricter with no provision for employees to properly balance work and parenting liabilities simultaneously. Hence, the industrial action undertaken by employees all over the nation was not a surprising move, she added.
“Government is pursuing cutting workers rights, cutting jobs, a wage freeze, a low pay offer and refusing to talk,” she said as quoted by the ABC. “There’s not a single major private sector employer in the country who has a two-year dispute with more strikes looming and they won’t even talk, let alone one that’s expecting people to give up family-friendly and other rights in return for a two-year wage freeze after 18,000 jobs loses. It’s just way out of step.”
The Guardian reported on Sunday that travel plans on Easter might be disrupted by the strike extending to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection employees as well. It added that the work freeze will begin starting Tuesday and a 24-hour strike for Thursday. Flood claimed that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull did not take any interest in discussing the issue with the union and hence the industrial action was expected to continue at airports for upcoming weeks.
Department of Human Services’ Hank Jongen claimed that there will be a new work agreement that would feature changes in shift timings and locations, but a prior extended notice will be issued to employees regarding the same. He claimed that the government will ensure the action poses minimal effect on the services offered by the departments.
“The majority of our staff will be at work, but there’s no doubt there will be some disruptions to our services and our phone services,” he said. “We’ve got contingency plans in place to try and minimise that to the extent we can. Payments will not be disrupted. All our online services are still available, but we’re asking people to be patient.”