Border control officers at Australia’s eight international airports are due to go on strike for 24 hours next Monday, 9 November 2015, in a move that threatens major disruption that day.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) warned on Friday that Australia’s eight international airports and other key sites face potential further disruption, with Immigration and Border Force workers to hold a 24-hour strike “as part of their campaign against the Federal Government’s attack on their rights, conditions and take-home pay.”
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has been notified the strike will take place on Monday 9 November 2015, starting just after midnight Sunday and continuing for 24 hours.
“This will be an escalation of the rolling two-hour stoppages that caused delays and inconvenience to international air passengers and businesses over 10 days in September,” a union statement said.
As with previous industrial action at airports and other key locations, staff in some roles are excluded from walking off the job to protect national security.
“This latest round of industrial action will begin next week with the start of ongoing action by Immigration Department and Department of Agriculture staff who undertake inspections and screening of international freight and parcels entering Australia.”
CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “We have made the decision to restart significant industrial action, given that discussions with Government have not produced any meaningful move on cuts to these workers’ rights, conditions and take-home pay.”
The Federal Government hit back, with Public Service Minister Michaelia Cash accusing the union of exploiting the public for their own “ideological argument”.
“The travelling public, whether they’re in Australia or they’re people coming to Australia as a tourism destination, are quite frankly being used as pawns by the CPSU in what is nothing more and nothing less than an ideological argument,” Cash told ABC News.
“I’m disappointed the CPSU has opted for industrial action rather than sitting down with their individual departments.”
“To date participation in industrial action has not been high despite the assertions of the CPSU.”
The CPSU said it expected Border Force “to continue their expensive and heavy-handed tactic of flying managers around the country to act as strike breakers, but it’s clear that many of them know that this divisive tactic is doing nothing to resolve this dispute”.
“Last month 91% of Border Protection staff – that’s more than 10,000 people – voted No to an unfair agreement that cut the take-home pay of many staff by AUD 8000 a year or more and stripped rights for all employees,” Flood said.
“Minister Michaelia Cash’s decision to raise the pay offer cap to 2% doesn’t compensate for losing a raft of rights and conditions,” she added.
“Not fixing the AUD 8000 pay cuts Government is still pushing to slash from the take-home pay of officers working to keep our borders safe just makes their offer ridiculous.
“I’m willing to get on a plane anywhere, any time to sit down with Government and resolve this dispute.”
Edited by William Sykes