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Issue #1691      July 1, 2015

Action protects Customs pay

Following a strong campaign from the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), Customs and the Abbott government have backed down on a plan to immediately cut take home pay by stripping a wide range of allowances from staff, as part of the Customs and Immigration merger on July 1.

The government had told Customs officers for months that they would have their pay cut when Customs ceases to exist on July 1, with their merger into the Department of immigration and Border protection and the creation of the Australian Border Force.

Before the union intervention, Customs officers were set to lose allowances worth many thousands of dollars a year because the Customs workplace agreement will cease to exist after June 30.

While the union has welcomed the last minute determinations it has warned that this is only a temporary reprieve, with thousands of Customs staff still set to lose take-home pay under the government’s requirements for a new enterprise agreement.

Under the Abbott government’s public service bargaining policy, agencies are being forced to remove allowances along with many other workplace rights and conditions.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: “Customs staff should never have been facing a immediate pay cut. They have endured months of uncertainty, worried how they would pay their bills after July 1.

“Staff are no longer facing an immediate pay cut from day one of Border Force, but they still face a pay cut in a new agreement which must comply with Government’s bargaining policy.

“Our Border Protection members have tough and sometimes dangerous jobs which deserve our thanks and respect, yet the Abbott government is pushing a policy that will dramatically cut their take home pay,” said Ms Flood.

Currently Customs officers can receive allowances for a range of workplace situations including being at sea, using firearms, meeting high fitness standards, working long hours, unusual shifts and performing dirty and/or dangerous work.

Some of the allowances at risk in the new agreement include:

  • Use of Force Allowance: for officers required to maintain specified fitness level so they can carry firearms;
  • Marine and Marine Accommodation Allowances: for officers deployed at sea for up to 36 days at a time;
  • Dog Detector Unit Allowance: for officers who work with dogs detecting controlled substances.

Strike action

To highlight their deep dissatisfaction with Abbott government’s failed bargaining policy which seeks to cut allowances and other rights and conditions, CPSU members in Customs and Immigration will be taking 2 hour strike action on July 1.

Next article – TAFE needs guaranteed funding

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