The major union representing Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) workers, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), has asked its members not to take part in ‘surge deployment’ during next week’s airport strike.
The Union said it was aware that the Department was asking for volunteers to participate in surge deployment, where a worker covers the work of a striking union member, during the planned 24-hour stoppage at all eight of Australia’s international airports on Friday August 12.
The Union appealed to both members and non-members not to break the strike: “Our industrial action has the most impact when we can minimise the department’s use of so-called ‘surge deployment’.”
A Union spokesperson told Government News that the Department, which employs around 13,500 people, was putting “a major effort” into covering the strike.
“We are aware that DIBP has a plan to encourage managers and other staff to act as strike breakers, but not how successful they have been, nor where they intend to deploy them.
“We note our members are striking to bring attention to this protracted dispute and put pressure on government to finally do something to fix it, not simply to affect airport operations.”
The strike is a reaction to the continuation of the tortuous, three-year Australian Public Sector bargaining process, where at least 100,000 workers remain without a new enterprise agreement or a pay increase.
The union said it was expecting “thousands” of its members to join next week’s strike and forfeit a day’s pay.
A DIBP spokesperson said that staff were routinely deployed to meet operational priorities and that the majority of surge deployments were being undertaken locally and supplemented from other locations, if needed.
Government News understands that union members asked to break the strike can resist their employer’s request but non-union members may be forced to be strike breakers, even if they request not to be assigned surge deployment.
Border Force officers will walk off the job from midnight on August 12 at international airports, ports and other sites around the country, which is liable to cause delays for arriving and departing airline passengers.
Union members from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, which includes quarantine and biosecurity at airports, will hold a one-hour stop-work meeting on the same day.
CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said that the strike reflected the growing frustration of around 100,000 workers who had spent three years waiting for a new enterprise bargaining agreement under the threat of diluted workplace rights and conditions, particularly family friendly ones.
“This dispute continues to impact on the relationship between the Department and Border Force and their workforce,” Flood said.
“We do expect Border Force to continue their expensive and heavy-handed tactic of flying managers around the country to act as strike breakers, rather than upset airports and the travelling public with extended flight delays. Of course, that does nothing to resolve this dispute.”
Meanwhile, the DIBP has warned airline travellers to plan for delays and arrive early for their flights during next week’s airport strikes.
The Department issued a warning yesterday (Tuesday) that Friday’s strike could affect some late flights on Thursday evening (August 11) and early Saturday flights (on August 13) due to shift arrangements.
Assistant Commissioner Clive Murray, from the ABF’s Strategic Border Command, said the Department was making arrangements to minimise the impact on travellers as much as possible.
“If you are going overseas or returning to Australia on these dates, we advise you to arrive at the airport early,” Murray said.
“We aim to provide the best service we can and will continue to maintain our protection of Australia’s borders through contingency arrangements.”
Murray said SmartGate technology would be available at all eight major international airports and trained staff would ensure all airport functions ran as efficiently as possible.
The Department said it expected to be in a position to re-commence enterprise agreement negotiations with the union shortly.
For regular updates on strike action visit the Department’s website or the Department’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
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