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Issue #1784      July 5, 2017

Win on public sector jobs

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has helped win approximately 2,000 permanent jobs in the Department of Human Services to improve services for customers and reduce pressure on staff.

The agency covering Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support has advised the CPSU that they expect the majority of new permanent positions will be filled by current casual staff, as the department seeks to reduce its use of non-ongoing workers.

The department expects recruitment for the permanent jobs will be concluded in August, with the roles mostly to cover call centre and processing work in offices around the country.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: “This is an enormously significant announcement that will give a much-needed boost to service standards for Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support customers while easing the intense pressure faced by DHS staff. We’re working closely with DHS to ensure these jobs are created quickly and fairly.

“The CPSU has campaigned tirelessly for more permanent jobs in DHS, recognising the growing frustrations of customers and staff. This is a massive win for our delegates and members in DHS who’ve done the leg-work to make this happen through community campaigning, petitions and more.”

Just as importantly, it is also a win for DHS staff themselves, providing around 2,000 people in communities around the country with quality, permanent employment and offer some desperately needed support to their colleagues struggling under impossible workloads and also dealing with increased customer agitation and aggression as a result.

“People employed casually by DHS already make a valuable contribution, but giving them permanent jobs will mean they receive the comprehensive training that is required to fully help customers through sensitive issues and often complex processes,” noted Flood.”

“The department deserves congratulations for taking this first step to turn around what has been an unacceptable slide in service standards, as we’ve seen with the 42 million calls blocked with a busy signal just in the first 10 months of this financial year and with the tens of thousands of people unfairly caught up in robo-debt.

“We believe this announcement will prove the considerable benefits to workers and employers of providing stable employment rather than casual and irregular jobs. We are hopeful that when the department sees those benefits that it will extend this program to provide more secure jobs.

“DHS has been described as an agency in crisis. These jobs will help repair that damage, while the department also needs to agree a fair and reasonable outcome to resolve enterprise bargaining and implement the key recommendations of last week’s inquiry report into robo-debt.”

Next article – Taking Issue – Trump versus the environment

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