Australian airports face immigration strike action for next two weeks

by Ray Clancy on September 27, 2016

in Australia Travel

People arriving at airports and ports in Australia are facing two weeks of intermittent disruption as immigration staff embark on another round of strikes.

From now until the 09 October there are chances of delays due to action by members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) in a long running dispute over pay and conditions.

airplane-qantasThe Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has warned that employees may take part in stoppages at all Department work areas in all states, including international airports, client service centres, ports, container examination facilities and international mail facilities.

‘We have contingency arrangements in place to minimise the impact of stoppages. We are working closely with stakeholders to minimise the impact on the travelling public and on cargo and mail operations,’ said a DIBP spokesman.

‘We are ensuring appropriate measures are in place for visa and citizenship services, we strongly encourage passengers departing on international flights get to the airport early and those arriving should expect some delays,’ he explained.

‘The health, safety and security of the public and our staff continues to be our priority during protected industrial action,’ the spokesman added.

The strikes will be triggered in 30 minute blocks all day, every day until the 09 October but unlike previous action the union has not given advanced notice of which airports they will strike at and when.

The tactic could make it difficult for the Australian Border Force and DIBP to bring in extra staff and managers to cope with delays. It is the most intense action during the three-year dispute, but there are exemptions in place so that security is not threatened.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said that taking this level of protected industrial action was necessary because it was the only way workers had to force the Government and the Department of Immigration to find a real solution, not just keep proposing stripping away workers’ rights, conditions and pay.

‘Our overwhelming preference remains to sit down and find a fair and sensible resolution but the Government has shown it is unwilling to do so. The Government is using nasty starve them out tactics refusing to talk and keeping these workers on a three year pay freeze,’ Flood explained.

‘For almost three years all Immigration and Border Force staff have seen is proposals to cut their existing rights and conditions and even cut some officers current take home pay. DIBP staff are highly trained, committed and hard working. Fair wages and conditions for the people who protect our borders and keep all Australians safe is not too much to ask,’ she pointed out.

She also pointed out that more than 80% of DIBP staff voted in March against an agreement which would have seen rights and conditions stripped away in exchange for a pay rise of just 1% per year.

The Tourism and Transport Forum has backed calls for the Turnbull Government to sit down and negotiate a resolution with the CPSU to end the dispute and ensure travellers are not disrupted.

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