Will Centrelink strikes affect your pension payments?

A pay dispute will lead to Centrelink strikes next week, but what does that mean for Age Pension and other Centrelink payments?

Workers are planning to strike next Monday 9 October for 24 hours as part of an industrial campaign over pay rates. However, Services Australia general manager Hank Jongen assured Centrelink customers their payments would not be affected.

“We are making preparations to minimise potential disruption to our customers,” Mr Jongen told 7News.

“We want to reassure customers that payments will not be affected. Our priority remains ensuring that those most vulnerable or with urgent queries will get the support they need. Most agency staff are not part of the action and will attend work as normal”.

Mr Jongen also said online services will not be affected.

Online options

“We encourage customers to use these options first by accessing services through myGov, Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support online accounts and mobile apps, and our phone self-service lines,” he said.

The workers are striking over the government’s pay rise offer of 11.2 per cent over three years. A Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) poll of members overwhelmingly rejected the offer. 

“In an environment where every [public service] worker is feeling extreme cost-of-living pressures, the current pay offer just doesn’t cut it. The government can and should do better, and that means making an offer that has clear support from employees,” CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly told Yahoo Finance.

The strike is the latest step in an industrial campaign that has also led to a series of work bans and one-hour stop-work actions in August.

It comes at a time when customers’ wait times are already blowing out from 14 minutes and 14 seconds the previous financial year to 20 minutes and 22 seconds this year. However, there is anecdotal evidence some customers are waiting hours for Services Australia to call them for allotted appointments.

Staff and funding cuts a culprit? 

Services Australia staff claim the agency is close to breaking point with poor staffing, budget cuts and rock-bottom morale. 

Extra staff and resources added to the agency during COVID have slowly been wound back, placing increasing pressure on the remaining staff.

The agency has had its funding cut. In the May Federal Budget, the average staffing level cap for Services Australia was 26,692 – down 1868 from the previous year.

Services Australia has also been hit by several project failures including errors in up to 47,488 assessments for child support payments, and the infamous Robodebt scheme.

And in July, the current government also wrote off a $191 million dollar investment into an entitlement calculation engine (ECE).

Government services minister Bill Shorten said the government could not continue to justify the program.

“We have nothing to show for it,” Mr Shorten said. “It was a decision not taken lightly but the agency could not keep throwing good money after bad.”

The project was instigated by the previous LNP government for an initial investment of $23 million in 2019-20.

Have Centrelink services in your area decreased? Have you been affected? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Age Pension payment rates: 20 September 2023 to 19 March 2024

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. Those who run so called services Australia, need to realise that this has been a problem for at least the last two years –and nothing to do with the covid situation.

    don`t blame the staff that do their utmost , to solve all sorts of problems. and no doubt put up with abuse that the executives are protected from.
    it seems to be a wide spread disease created by the executives of so many organisations in this country, –and the WORKERS are left to ” carry the can” and this has to STOP.
    AND THOSE responsible need to start BEING responsible instead of behaving like spoilt selfish brats.

  2. I wish our payments would go up that much in 3 years!

    I’d be happy with a ‘real’ rise when they stop paying us a pittance and change the legislation from 41.7% of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings to at least 50 for couples, and up our single payments to 70% of that 50%. Then we can get out of poverty.

    Currently I receive as a single a paltry 27.6% (.417*.6633) of the above earnings, which is far too low to live on in these days of being ‘squeezed’ from all sides, including rent/mortgage, basic food, utilities, and fuel. It’s been a never-ending cycle, and the only way to get out of it is to give us a ‘real’ increase.

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