Public sector national strike for better agreements

September 17, 2016
CPSU members outside PM Malcolm Turnbull's office on September 9.

Members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) across the country walked off the job for 24 hours on September 9 in protest at the federal government's refusal to make reasonable offers on pay and conditions in agency bargaining throughout the federal public service.

The strike involves staff in key agencies, including Human Services, Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support, the Tax Office, Defence, the Bureau of Meteorology, Agriculture and Water Resources and Prime Minister and Cabinet.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: "We started bargaining with this government in late 2013, but around 100,000 Commonwealth public sector workers still don't have new enterprise agreements, despite these workers' ongoing willingness to talk and compromise.

The buck absolutely stops with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the minister responsible, Michaelia Cash, yet they still won't even talk, let alone abandon their harsh and counter-productive attack on critical workplace rights and conditions.

"These people are trying to support their families without a pay rise for three years and struggling to hold onto basic workplace rights and conditions, particularly family-friendly rights that let them get to their job while dropping their kids off at school or daycare.

They're willing to endorse a sensible solution, but see nothing to gain in giving up those rights for 1% [pay rise] a year under the Turnbull government's unreasonable and unworkable public sector bargaining policy.

"Minister Cash and her ideological attack dog, Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd, have ridiculously claimed the CPSU is standing in the way of a resolution, but history shows the opposite.

This union has successfully finalised deals for more than two decades with prime ministers of all shapes, from Bob Hawke to John Howard; but it's only the incompetent tenures of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull that have led to this protracted mess."

The September 9 national strike follows years of industrial action at various levels by CPSU members, and the rejection of harsh bargaining offers from public service heads, under instructions from the Coalition government. Public sector workers have overwhelmingly voted “No” to enterprise agreement deals in most agencies.

More than 100,000 public sector staff have so far rejected enterprise agreements, while about 50,000 government workers, in about 54 smaller agencies or departments, have voted to accept new agreements.

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