The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has launched another round of industrial action, starting with half-day strikes in many Canberra-based public service agencies on September 15.
This is an escalation of its long-running bargaining campaign against the Abbott government. Staff from the Canberra offices of Human Services, the Tax Office, Immigration and Border Protection and Employment will hold a lunch-time rally and half-day walk-outs.
This action will be followed in coming weeks by further strikes and industrial action around Australia, which will affect service centres, call centres, international airports, ports and a range of other public sector workplaces.
Nadine Flood, CPSU national secretary, said the "unprecedented levels" of industrial action by tens of thousands of public sector workers in recent months would continue unless the government agrees to negotiate. She said public service minister Eric Abetz has refused to meet with the CPSU since January 2014.
"Public sector workers are angry with a government that continues to denigrate the work they do and now wants to rip away their rights, conditions and take-home pay," Flood said on September 8.
"These workers are facing nasty, low-ball agreements that strip important workplace rights and conditions from enterprise agreements. Under this policy, Border Protection workers stand to lose up to $8000 in allowances, while working parents in Centrelink and Medicare are being pushed to give up essential work and family protections and other rights.
"After more than a year of stop-start bargaining, less than 2% of public sector workers have new enterprise agreements in place. That figure alone shows the Abbott government’s bargaining policy is simply not working and needs to change.
"More than 17,000 public service jobs have been cut since the government took office. Now pay, conditions and rights are being threatened. This is no way to run a modern, professional public sector.
"Over recent months, we've seen unprecedented levels of industrial action by thousands of public sector workers. This will continue unless the government drops its attacks and sits down with the CPSU to try to find a common sense settlement.
"All these workers are asking for is the continuing protection of their rights and conditions and a fair pay rise to cover the cost of living, in return for delivering high quality services to the Australian community," Flood said.