Continued DHS bargaining impasse prompts more industrial action

Fight for rights and pay goes on

Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support workers will take fresh strike action next week, as talks aimed at resolving enterprise bargaining within the Department of Human Services have once again failed to break the impasse.

The CPSU agreed last month to halt previously notified DHS industrial action while the Department withdrew an application on the action, with both agreeing to negotiations overseen by the Fair Work Commission, but the talks have not resolved major outstanding issues in the three-year dispute and DHS have yet to indicate any movement on any unresolved matters.

As a result the union has decided that rolling strikes will be taken by CPSU members in DHS from Friday, March 17th. Significant further action is expected in coming months if the department and the Turnbull Government do not move towards a fair and reasonable settlement.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “We’ve negotiated in good faith with DHS over several weeks, with the assistance of the Fair Work Commission, but unfortunately the department hasn’t moved on the key outstanding issues that are so important to our members.”

“We are making steady progress with various other Commonwealth agencies still without new agreements, in some cases with assistance from Fair Work, but unfortunately we are still not getting anywhere in DHS. What’s being pushed by DHS bosses still strips away essential rights and conditions, particularly the family-friendly rights that allow a mum to balance her work with caring for her family.”

“The department and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash continue to ignore the real disadvantage to working parents this dispute is really about, and that’s why our members in DHS say they want to resume the industrial action they’ve been taking for well over a year. This round of action will begin on Friday March 17th, with members taking more significant action over coming months to resolve this mess.”

“There are 34,000 hardworking Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support staff who’ve gone well over three years without a pay rise as they’ve fought for a new enterprise agreement. Our members will be striking because they deserve a fair deal, and because their bosses and the Turnbull Government should listen to them.”

“Our members hope this action will highlight their plight through enterprise bargaining. Hundreds of them made personal submissions last year to the Senate inquiry into public sector bargaining, telling their personal stories of financial hardship and their worries about the impact of the enterprise agreement being pushed by their bosses on them and their families.”

“The Department of Human Services is an agency in crisis because of the Turnbull Government’s attacks on it. 5,000 permanent jobs have been slashed from Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support and 36 million phone calls to the agency went unanswered last year. Australians rely on this department to provide essential services, so the Government should start treating DHS and the people who work there with respect.”