Airport strikes ahead as Abetz points to figures
Industrial action by public servants is expected to disrupt international airports this week.
Community and Public Sector Union members at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection walked off the job on Monday, starting a series of rolling four-hour stoppages.
Meanwhile, Senator Eric Abetz – the minister leading bargaining negotiations for the Abbott government - says the latest Employee Living Cost Index proves the pay offers so far have been fair.
The ABS figures show an increase in the cost of living for employee households of 0.9 per cent in the year to June 2015, and Senator Abetz wants the offers made to the federal public sector to be seen in this context.
“Unlike the CPSU, Australian public service employees understand that the government needs to live within its means,” he told Fairfax.
“It is simply not possible to agree to the CPSU's claims without it resulting in 10,000 job losses across the sector.
Senator Abetz pointed to a claim made in the 2012 edition of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Wages Report that the index was “generally better than the CPI for measuring the change in the purchasing power of workers' wages”.
The CPSU's action this week is just the next step in industrial action that has been brewing for most of this year, as public servants try to forcibly soften the Abbott government's stance on bargaining.
CPSU members at the Department of Agriculture have undertaken a series of stoppages and bans at a range of sites during the same period.
Meanwhile, union members in Australian Border Force marine units will hold “in port” bans soon, in which they will refuse to load and unload stores, rubbish and equipment, do pre-departure checks or perform maintenance activities.
The union says any members with essential national security, counter-terrorism and specialist biosecurity hazard roles will be exempt.
“Public sector workers on our borders undertake important, difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs on behalf of our community,” CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said in a statement.
“They deserve better than the Abbott government's attack on their rights, conditions and take-home pay.”