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Issue #1748      September 14, 2016

Govt refusals fuel strike

Thousands of Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members from key Commonwealth agencies walked off the job on September 9, striking for 24 hours in protest at the Turnbull government’s 1,000 days of incompetence over public sector bargaining.

The all-day strike involved staff across agencies including Human Services, Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support, the Tax Office, Defence, the Bureau of Meteorology, Agriculture and Water Resources and Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The union notes that the Department of Human Services – covering Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support – has warned of “reduced numbers of staff in service centres and on the phone, and increased wait times”.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: “These people are the engine that runs the public services that Australians know and rely on, yet they’ve been forced to fight off the Turnbull government’s attacks on their rights and livelihoods for more than 1,000 days. These workers are striking to hold the Government accountable for this debacle.

“Our members are enormously committed to their work helping ordinary Australians and making the country a better place now and in the future. This strike may cause temporary disruption, but that’s nothing compared to the terrible damage inflicted on public services by the Turnbull government’s slashing of jobs and budgets and ongoing efforts to hurt these workers.

The union started bargaining with this government in late 2013 but around 100,000 Commonwealth public sector workers still do not have new enterprise agreements, despite those workers’ ongoing willingness to talk and compromise. Ms Flood said that the “buck absolutely stops” with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the minister responsible Michaelia Cash, yet they still will not even talk let alone abandon their counter-productive attack on critical workplace rights and conditions.

“These people are trying to support their families without a pay rise for three years and struggling to hold onto basic workplace rights and conditions, particularly family-friendly rights that let them do their job while dropping their kids off at school or day-care. They’re willing to endorse a sensible solution but see nothing to gain in giving up those rights for 1% a year under the Turnbull government’s unreasonable and unworkable public sector bargaining policy.

“Minister Cash and her ideological attack dog, Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd, have ridiculously claimed the CPSU is standing in the way of a resolution but history shows the opposite. This union has successfully finalised deals for more than two decades with prime ministers of all shapes, from Bob Hawke to John Howard; it’s only the incompetent tenures of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull that have led to this protracted mess.

“These workers are prepared to compromise but they’re absolutely determined to get a decent outcome. It’s time for Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Cash to stop sitting on their hands and instead follow the lead set by successful major employers by treating their workers with respect and offering them a fair and reasonable deal.”

Next article – Taking issue: The capitalist establishment – Nuclear “new war doctrine”

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