Tax office jobs under threat

Issue 

BY CHRIS SLEE

Public sector management is threatening the job security and flextime rights of workers in the Australian Taxation Office. Negotiations are underway for a new industrial agreement for the ATO. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) hope to win flextime rights for call-centre workers. Instead, management is trying to impose rigid call-centre-style rostering on almost all ATO workers.

Management wants all areas of the ATO to be open for receiving phone calls from 8am to 6pm. If not enough volunteers are found for a particular time slot, people will be forced to work at times that may be inconvenient to them.

The CPSU also hope to win permanent jobs for the large number of workers who have been employed on short-term contracts for long periods. Instead, management is threatening not only to sack these workers when their contracts expire (June 2003 for many) but also to abolish the jobs of "ongoing" workers at the lowest levels in the public service hierarchy.

The ATO received increased funding in the last budget to overcome staff shortages caused by redundancies and non-renewal of temporary contracts last year. But management hopes that the need for staff in processing areas will decline over the next year or two, enabling new job cuts.

The CPSU is demanding that people whose jobs are abolished be given an opportunity to train for, and be promoted to new ongoing jobs. Management merely says they can apply for promotions in the normal way, with the implication that if they are unsuccessful in gaining a promotion they could face compulsory redundancy when their existing jobs are abolished.

Another issue concerning workers is pay. Management is offering a 4% increase in the first year of a new agreement and 4.5% in the following year — but with conditions attached. If targets are not met, the pay rises could be withheld.

From Green Left Weekly, July 31, 2002.
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