Strike action by immigration workers in Australia are causing significant delays for people arriving and leaving the country and are likely to continue for the whole of this week.

Hundreds of people were left queueing at Sydney airport and delays were also reported at the international airports in Perth and Cairns despite the fact that the Australian Border Force flew hundreds of managers around the country to try to minimise the effect of the action.


The action, organised by the Community and Public Sector Union, is affecting immigration work at the airports all this week and into next week. Office staff taking action means that there could also be delays to applications for visas and citizenship.

"We've had reports from Sydney Airport of up to 500 people in the departures hall. Staff who returned to work tell us there were delays of up to 90 minutes. That's unfortunate, but these staff feel they have no option other than take more serious strike action," said CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood.

The action is part of a wider dispute over pay and costs that relates to 160,000 public sector workers. According to Flood, immigration and border force workers are being hit hardest with the current proposals resulting in a cut to their existing take home pay of $8000 a year.

The CPSU is seeking talks with the new Employment Minister Michaelia Cash to resolve the industrial dispute.

"The Government and the Department have had well over a year to sit down with the union and work out a fair deal. These men and women work in important, difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs to keep all Australians safe. They deserve better treatment from the Government," said Flood.

Airports in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Darwin and the Gold Coast are also affected and there could be delays at any time of the day or night.

"The Department is working closely with stakeholders to minimise the impact on the travelling public and on cargo and mail operations and is ensuring appropriate contingencies are in place for visa and citizenship services," said a Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) spokesman. "We strongly encourage airline passengers to plan for potential delays and arrive at the airport even earlier over the next few weeks."

Notice has been given by the CPSU that the industrial action will continue until the 30th of September with strikes planned twice a day every day until then.