Centrelink staff to strike from Monday
IT IS crisis point for Department of Human Services staff, with strike action to hit the public from Monday.
In response to the controversial debt recovery scheme being run by the Turnbull Government and the ongoing dispute over pay, the staff will conduct rolling industrial action over six days starting next week.
Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) advise Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support workers will strike and take other forms of industrial action at various times and various locations on February 13, 15, 17, 20, 22 and 24.
"Staff providing critical services, including those dealing with customers unfairly targeted by the flawed automated debt recovery, will not participate," CPSU advised.
In a statement, department spokesman Hank Jongen said the industrial action was likely to cause delays to telephone and face-to-face services.
Customer payments, however, will not be affected.
"We are asking customers to use the self-services options available through MyGov and the Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support mobile apps," he said.
"Of course, anyone who needs to speak to us can phone or visit, they just need to know that this may take longer due to the industrial action.
"Our priority is to ensure that the most vulnerable, or those with urgent queries, get the support they need."
CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: "The Turnbull Government has rightly been condemned over the Centrelink automated debt debacle, but the problems go far deeper in the Department of Human Services because of years of budget cuts and the government's harsh and illogical public sector bargaining policy".
Ms Flood reported that the 34,000 staff across Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support had gone more than three years without receiving a pay rise.
"Budget cuts and the 5000 jobs that have been slashed from this agency also mean these workers are finding it more and more difficult to provide the quality services that the Australian public needs and deserves.
"Our members are doing this because they care about the quality of the services they provide, which is why workers dealing with sensitive clients such as those being dragged through the robo-debt crisis will not be taking industrial action," Ms Flood said.