Australia : Airport chaos looms as CPSU threatens strike action by Immigration and Border Protection staff
The travelling public could be facing lengthy delays at the nation's airports next week as thousands of Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff walk off the job.
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Public Sector Union has notified the department its members will strike for 24 hours from midnight on August 12, with international airports, ports and other sites likely to be affected. Some CPSU members in other departments will also hold a one-hour stop work meeting on the day. The action is in protest over the continuing enterprise bargaining deadlock which has dragged on for nearly three years.
Around three-quarters of the Commonwealth's 150,000 public servants remain without an enterprise bargaining agreement despite several attempts to break the deadlock and a series of failed votes. Many of the Commonwealth's largest departments are yet to reach an agreement with staff, with workplace rights and conditions central to the union's demands.
The CPSU said the impacts of the nationwide strike would vary from location to location, but with 60-70 per cent of front-line airport staff union members, the impact could be significant.
"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.
The union has written directly to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull requesting an urgent meeting to sort out the impasse, and hinted at the prospect of further disruption if agreement was not reached soon.
"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. All these workers want is to hang onto their existing workplace rights, particularly family-friendly conditions and a fair wage outcome given their wages have been frozen for the past three years," Ms Flood said.
"More than 100,000 workers and their families have now gone three years without a pay rise while struggling to hold on to basic workplace rights and conditions, particularly the ones that balance work with family life."
A Department of Immigration and Border Protection spokeswoman said the planned industrial action by CPSU members could impact international airports, sea ports, container examination facilities, client services, visa processing sections and international mail facilities.
"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," the spokeswoman said.
"The department is working hard to deliver a revised enterprise agreement offer that addresses many of the key issues raised by employees."