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Issue #1804      November 22, 2017

Courting strike action

The Federal, Family and Federal Circuit Courts and the National Native Title Tribunal last week faced staff shortages as workers walked off the job in a further escalation of their battle for a fair pay and conditions deal.

Courts staff have gone four years without a pay increase and face cuts to workplace rights and conditions, says the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).

“CPSU members in Courts feel they have no other option but protected industrial action. Courts management refuses to hear workers’ concerns about the cuts, they’ve been through mergers, job losses and more changes are planned. Staff have been put through the wringer and enough is enough,” the union’s deputy national president Rupert Evans said.

This was the third time Courts staff have taken strike action. Last time (November 1-2), Registries in Darwin, Adelaide and Melbourne closed when workers walked off the job and two judges adjourned court due to the industrial action.

“Management is being especially inflexible in negotiations and has even refused an offer to have Fair Work conciliate, which is ironic considering conciliation and mediation is a key tenet of how courts operate,” Evans said.

“All federal public servants have struggled to get a fair deal under the Turnbull government’s harsh bargaining policy, but in other agencies across the Australian Public Service we have managed to get the fairest deals possible while fighting off cuts to rights and conditions.

“Not so in Courts. Management there is doing everything in their power to treat Courts workers like poor cousins. That’s why staff are taking this unprecedented industrial action.”

The Federal Courts is one of the only agencies where bargaining remains in such a frustrating deadlock. The union has called for Attorney-General George Brandis to step in and advise Courts management to follow the lead set by other Commonwealth agencies that have successfully brokered agreements after belatedly recognising that retaining rights and conditions is the key to settlement.

Strike action, including rolling stoppages, in Courts ran from Monday November 13 to Friday November 17.

Next article – Imperialism – Globalisation

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