Customs officers stop work over pay dispute

Thousands of Customs Officers attended stop-work meetings around Australia on October 13. They voted to take further industrial action next week if needed as part of their campaign to have the federal government agree to a fair pay agreement.

Customs officers at than fifty locations took action. This caused delays at international airports, ports, cargo inspections, international mail centres and other customs sites.

“Today these workers sent a very clear message to the government — the 3% [a year] pay offer is not good enough because it will not keep up with the rising cost of living,” said Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) national secretary Nadine Flood.

Government policy is to limit pay rises for public servants to 3 % a year, though there can be exceptions based on “productivity”.

The CPSU said the huge pay rise awarded to customs CEO Michael Carmody — now $800,000 a year, up $300,000 — “have made workers even more determined to get a better pay rise”.

The union has accused the federal government and the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) of interfering in negotiations and undermining potential solutions.

Flood said: “If the government was serious, we could resolve this dispute today. Over the last few days we have made real progress in our direct talks with Customs but the government and APSC have rejected all of the potential solutions we negotiated.

“The CPSU has recently struck new agreements in the Department of Immigration and the Australian Bureau of Statistics which deliver increases that match the current CPI [consumer price index] of 3.6%. We want to do the same in Customs but the Government keeps getting in the way.”

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