Australian immigration services facing further delays

by Ray Clancy on September 25, 2015

in Australia Immigration

Services provided by immigration officials in Australia, including visas and citizenship applications will continue to be hit by strike action after the main employee union voted against the latest pay offer.

All week members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) union have been taking strike action and this is now set to continue into next week.

Strike_boardsIt means that immigration services at all of Australia’s international airport are likely to see delays and staff at offices relating to applications are also taking action.

The CPSU says that staff are facing an effective $8,000 a year pay cut and staff have now voted against the latest government’s pay offer of 3.4% over three years. There was a record turnout at the ballot with almost 82% of the department’s staff casting their vote.

Some 91% of union members, more than 10,000 workers, voted to reject the offer and the union said as well less money in their pay packet they are also facing the loss of multiple allowances, leave and rights to arrangements such as flexible hours and part time working.

So far there have been delays at busy airports such as Sydney, Perth and Cairns. Sydney Airport has warned international travellers to arrive early and allow extra time to get through customs during the strike.

The CPSU said staff reported up to 500 people waiting in Sydney Airport’s departure hall with reported delays of up to 90 minutes. Staff processing both departing and arriving travellers on international flights are stopping work for two hours, twice a day during the morning and afternoon peaks and the action is set to continue until Wednesday 30 September.

‘These workers are angry, they’re under pressure, they face major cuts to their take home pay and workplace rights and the government simply hasn’t listened. Border Force workers feel they have no choice but to act, so they are prepared to strike every day, twice a day over peak periods, over 10 days,’ said CPSU secretary Nadine Flood.

‘Rather than deal sensibly with the core issue, Border Force is flying large teams of managers all over the country to act as strike breakers at airports at vast expense. They’re turning heavy handed tactics on their own workforce. This million dollar band aid operation means the impact of strike action on the travelling public will be unpredictable and may vary from place to place and day to day,’ she added.

The strike action is the result of the failure of negotiations that have now been going on for over a year. It is hoped that former assistant immigration minister Michaelia Cash who is the new head of the employment department may be able to inject some new ideas into the negotiations.

‘We are calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to make resolving this dispute a public service priority, with a Minister who’s prepared to talk and hear workers legitimate concerns,’ said Flood.

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