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Issue #1770      March 22, 2017

Union stand for public sector

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members working in Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support have begun a new round of strike action signalling their determination to resolve their long fight for a new enterprise agreement.

Workers in the Department of Human Services began rolling strikes between 1:30 pm and 8:30 pm on March 17. Limited work bans had already begun.

The union intends to notify the department of further strike action in coming weeks and months as DHS management has not moved on the key issues that matter to CPSU members.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: “This protracted dispute had gone on for far, far too long. It’s bad for people working in Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support, it’s bad for their families and it’s bad for the essential services our members in DHS provide. That’s why our members are going back on strike.

“We agreed in February to hold off on taking fresh industrial action and instead proceed with negotiations overseen by the Fair Work Commission. The CPSU has negotiated in good faith but unfortunately DHS stands out from other Commonwealth agencies where we are making progress.”

Thousands of DHS workers have been stuck in the dispute for more than three years without a pay rise. This includes part-time working mums on around $40,000 a year who are doing it really tough. The union points out that all they want to do is hold on to rights and conditions that have been in place for many years and allow them to balance their working and family lives.

The department and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash have previously ignored the unacceptable disadvantage to working parents that this dispute is really about. Ms Flood said that Australians rely on the department to provide essential services and that the government should start treating DHS and the people who work there with respect.

“DHS is an agency in crisis because of the Turnbull government’s attacks on it. Our community and workers are struggling, with 36 million phone calls to the agency going unanswered last year and 5,000 permanent jobs slashed. Resolving bargaining would be an important first stepping to getting this agency back on track.”

Next article – Statement – Built by the working people

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