Airport strikes have begun, to go on for two weeks


As foreshadowed in Government News earlier this month, Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff at sites including international airports, cruise ship terminals and cargo facilities have commenced two weeks of protected industrial action, with further action planned as required to resolve the three-year-old remuneration disagreement.

The CPSU has notified two weeks of rolling stoppages across the country from 26 September to 9 October with strikes in 30 minute blocks available to CPSU members all day, every day. Strikes may occur at any airport, cruise ship terminal or cargo facility at any time during the day or night.

The union says this constitutes the most intense and widespread strike action undertaken by CPSU members and applies throughout all DIBP operations. Multiple short strikes are expected to cause disruption and delays to passengers, cargo freight operations and other services.

More than 50 exemptions remain in place to ensure national security and the safety of the general public during all industrial action.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said taking this level of protected industrial action was necessary because it was the only way workers had to force the Government and the Department to offer a real solution to the impasse.

“Our overwhelming preference remains to sit down and find a fair and sensible resolution, but the Turnbull Government has shown it is unwilling to do so,” she said.

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has allowed Minister Michaelia Cash to continue the public sector workplace relations war started by Eric Abetz three years ago for far too long.

“The Government is using nasty ‘starve them out’ tactics refusing to talk and keeping these workers on a three-year pay freeze.

“For almost three years, all Immigration and Border Force staff have seen is proposals to cut their existing rights and conditions, and even cut some officers’ current take home pay, Ms Flood said.”

More than 80 per cent of DIBP staff voted in March against an agreement that would have seen rights and conditions stripped away in exchange for a pay rise of just one per cent per year.

The union says the Tourism and Transport Forum has backed calls for the Turnbull Government to sit down and negotiate a resolution with the CPSU to end the dispute and ensure travellers are not disrupted.

Ms Flood said the CPSU was always willing to talk but ready to argue for termination of the bargaining process should the Commonwealth apply to have industrial action suspended in the Fair Work Commission.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said it had contingency arrangements in place to minimise the impact of stoppages on business operations, but urged passengers departing on international flights get to the airport early, and advised that those arriving should expect some delays.

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