Australia : Turnbull told to 'fix this mess' as strikes return to airports
International travellers are being warned of major delays next week when hundreds of immigration and border protection workers walk off the job.
Workers will take part in mass strikes at Australia's
seven international airports from midnight on Friday, August 12, in a renewed bid to break the deadlocked battle over their pay and conditions.
Quarantine and airport biosecurity workers will also strike for an hour on the same day.
The industrial strife will be the latest escalation of a bitter workplace feud between Australia's public sector union and the federal government. Airport workers are among about 100,000 federal employees who have remained without a new employment agreement and a pay rise for almost three years.
Next week's airport strikes will be the first since the government won a Fair Work Commission ruling that suspended industrial action for three months, after April's deadly Paris terror attacks.
The government won the orders on security grounds, after claiming that terrorists or criminals could take advantage of the reduced staffing levels during a strike.
The CPSU said it has more than 50 agreed exemptions in place for areas such as counter-terrorism and intelligence officers.
"As with past strikes, the impact of this action is likely to vary from place to place, but may cause delays for international air passengers," CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said.
"Despite Border Force's cynical tactics in the Fair Work Commission prior to the election, our members are 100 per cent committed to national security and their action will not compromise the safety of passengers in any way."
The department on Wednesday confirmed it had received notice that union members planned to launch protected industrial action at airports, sea ports, container examination terminals, client services, visa processing centres and international mail centres.
"We will be working closely with stakeholders to minimise the impact on business, the travelling public and on cargo and mail operations ... we also have appropriate contingencies in place for visa and citizenship services," a spokeswoman said.
"The department is working hard to deliver a revised enterprise agreement offer that addresses many of the key issues raised by employees."
A spokeswoman for Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said it was unfortunate that the CPSU has resorted to disruptive strike action "yet again"
"This will cause harm to the public and involve a needless loss of pay for employees," she said.
Ms Flood said the airport workers wanted to protect their existing workplace rights and achieve a fair wage outcome after a three-year pay freeze.
She said the union had written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seeking an urgent meeting to resolve his government's "public sector bargaining mess".
"Across the public service, around 75 per cent of staff still don't have new enterprise agreements; that's more than 100,000 workers and their families who have now gone three years without a pay rise while struggling to hold on to basic workplace rights and conditions, particularly the ones that allow them to balance work with family commitments," Ms Flood said.
"Prime Minister Turnbull can avert future strike action, including the prospect of broader industrial action across the Commonwealth public sector, by working with us to fix this mess."