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Issue #1760      December 7, 2016

Public sector workers’ strong stand

Community and Public Sector Union members will begin four days of strike action in the Department of Human Services – across Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support – in protest at the Turnbull government’s three-year attack on their rights, conditions and pay.

Staff working in various roles in DHS, including call centres and Customer Service Centres, will strike at various times today and on Friday, December 9, Monday, December 12 and Friday, December 16.

The industrial action is being launched as the department continues to apply the Turnbull government’s harsh and unreasonable public sector bargaining policy, despite a strong third No vote from DHS staff earlier this month and over 600 submissions to the Senate inquiry into Commonwealth bargaining.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: “Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support staff are frustrated and worried by the Turnbull government’s mean and illogical public sector bargaining policy. These working mums and dads are asking us if they can go on strike again to bring some attention to this unfair situation, as they face their third Christmas without a pay rise.

“DHS staff work every day to help ordinary Australians but they’ve been doing it pretty tough themselves for three long years as the government’s frozen their pay while trying to strip essential rights, such as the family-friendly conditions that allow a call-centre worker to balance shift work with raising a family.”

Flood said that these workers are among the lowest paid in the Commonwealth public sector, and stand to lose the most under the government’s policy. They want to go on strike, even though they cannot really afford to but they are absolutely desperate for government to do something, noting how the whole situation “underlines how nasty this bargaining mess is.”

“Our members hope this action will highlight their plight. It’s the same reason why hundreds of them made personal submissions to the Senate inquiry into public sector bargaining, telling their personal stories of financial hardship and their worry that the enterprise agreement being pushed by their bosses will force them to choose between their job and their family.

“DHS staff really do deserve better than this, just like every one of the 100,000 public sector workers who still don’t have new enterprise agreements after three years. Surely there’s no better time than Christmas for the Prime Minister to stop playing Scrooge and change the public sector bargaining policy to allow a fair and reasonable settlement.”

Next article – Government of bigotry and deception

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