The Community and Public Sector Union has taken a flamethrower to plans to scope-out the potential for outsourcing Medicare claims and payments processing, warning that tens of thousands of jobs are at risk.
As industrial tensions continue mount across the wider public service, the sector’s main union has branded the market testing exercise an attempt to “sell off” jobs and “outsource Medicare payments to big business.”
Although it is more likely the Abbott government is trying to eliminate APS jobs rather than go through the more expensive and less appealing option of trying to sell them, Health Minister Peter Dutton’s attempt to update and get Medicare’s technology infrastructure in order is ringing big alarm bells.
“This outrageous move could cut up to 20,000 public service jobs, most in regional and suburban Australia where jobs have already been hit hard,” National Secretary Nadine Flood said, adding the majority of Medicare’s staff “are women on an average salary of $63,000 a year and based mainly in suburban and regional areas.”
“These are not highly-paid fat cats, they are mostly mums and dads on average wages who will struggle to find alternative jobs in areas where jobs are scarce, particularly the thousands of them working in regional Australia.”
Health Minister Peter Dutton has made assurances that Medicare’s counter services are not in the frame for outsourcing under the EOI, however the paucity of detail has continued to feed into fears the present round of 16,500 APS job cuts could be the tip of the iceberg.
“Medicare is a highly effective key part of Australia’s great public health system, yet this government is determined to dismantle it and sell the profitable bits to its big business mates,” Ms Flood said “It is absolutely shocking.”
She accused the government of using stealth tactics to pursue a privatisation agenda without telling the community of public servants.
“They’re doing it without a word to the community or to thousands of Medicare workers whose jobs are in the firing line. The first we hear of this is a tender to sell off Medicare. This is a nasty, sneaky move by the Abbott Government,” Ms Flood said.
“Australians are wary about privatisation because so often they pay more and get less. The last place we want that to happen is with something as important as Medicare.”
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