29th Nov 2016
FONT SIZE: A+ A-
Centrelink staff to strike in pay dispute
Centrelink Medicare sign

Centrelink and Medicare staff are amongst those employed by the Department of Human Services who will again strike over the next two weeks.

While previous industrial action has seen only 5000 of the Department’s 36,000 staff walk out, this current wave is happening at one of the busiest times of the year. Not only are reporting periods altered due to the upcoming holidays, but the changes to the asset thresholds will undoubtedly leave more customers requiring assistance.

The four-year long dispute over pay and conditions has seen a series of strikes and industrial action, with the latest rolling stoppages taking place on Monday 5 December, Friday 9 December, Monday 12 December and Friday 16 December.

"Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support staff are frustrated and worried by the Turnbull Government's mean and illogical public sector bargaining policy," said Nadine Flood, National Secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union.

"These working mums and dads are asking us if they can go on strike again to bring some attention to this unfair situation, as they face their third Christmas without a pay rise."

"DHS staff work every day to help ordinary Australians but they've been doing it pretty tough themselves for three long years as the Government's frozen their pay while trying to strip essential rights, such as the family-friendly conditions that allow a call-centre worker to balance shift work with raising a family."

What do you think of the strikes? Are you concerned you will be affected?

Related articles:
Centrelink's pension Christmas present
DHS strikes could delay pensions





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    LENYJAC
    29th Nov 2016
    10:49am
    As long as it hits those who dont deserv it
    Rae
    29th Nov 2016
    10:55am
    Well at least they haven't suffered a pay cut which a lot of part pensioners have already or will next year.

    Nobody gave a rats about the pensioners on fixed incomes that had income cut now did they?
    John Mac
    29th Nov 2016
    11:02am
    I'd support the CL workers as, despite the occasional grump, they do a difficult & thankless task for the rest of us.
    TREBOR
    29th Nov 2016
    5:37pm
    I've always found them reasonable to work with, and in any dispute they are open to a counter-argument.
    Herbie49
    29th Nov 2016
    11:04am
    While the Centrelink staff I have had to deal with over the last two years is generally polite, they are about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. A few months ago I went in around 11.00am and waited my turn I couldn't believe it when a staffer came out and urged all the people in the queue go away and come back later as it was lunchtime, have they never thought of staggered lunch breaks. I have no idea what they get paid, but I am sure it will be inline with all other government departments, that is, quite well paid. I say if you want more do more.
    Eddy
    29th Nov 2016
    3:13pm
    Herbie, you obviously never worked in the public sector. Our political masters (no matter which party in in power) are mean when it comes to pay and conditions improvements for their employees, (the exception is salary rises and allowances increases for politicians and their staffers). They are also very good at demonising their workers, if Centrelink staff go on strike they are abandoning benefit users (including pensioners). If nurses take action they are abandoning 'their' patients. Same with ambos, fire fighters, police, customs, immigration etc etc, "they are endangering the community" is the catchcry of governments everywhere, who do not accept any responsibility for industrial action they provoke.
    I say 'go for it Centreleink workers' and may you all win in the end
    Polly Esther
    29th Nov 2016
    3:50pm
    Sorry Eddy, Been there done that, worked? in the Public ( service? ) that is. I have to believe and therefore agree with Herbie's comments.
    TREBOR
    29th Nov 2016
    5:40pm
    When I worked in the PS there was a newsletter titled 'Grey Collar' for the overworked and neglected White Collar...

    We struck over pay after the Arbitration Commission handed down a finding, and the government refused it. Same thing happened with the agency I worked for, after I'd spent five years disputing with them their management approach, when they called in an outside consultant firm at a princely sum. When that firm came back and told them much of what I'd been telling them - they rejected its findings. Countless good officers quit.
    Allie
    29th Nov 2016
    11:27am
    Wonderful.
    I hope there is more to come.
    In 2013 I could go to Medicare/Centrelink and have service face to face.
    Now Medicare is either by app ( mine does NOT work) or by snail mail. No more over the counter getting your money back.
    Centrelink is now a ghost of its former service self.
    You go and line up and a young person with an ipad looks at it and points you to a bank of computers.
    "But I have a computer at home. I need more help!"
    Too bad...there is only about four workers in a region that services over 80,000 people.
    If you are elderly or computer illiterate you can phone...and wait around 45 mins to an hour and half on a line that may or may not be able to help you specifically.

    I feel for the understaffed workers who under this recalcitrant pathetic cruel and judgemental Govt keeps changing the goal posts.

    How to keep up?

    More strikes against this horrible, vicious, vindictive, cruel mob of creeps who now are slowly dismantling a caring society leaving only that which can be afforded the rich, well off, money grubbing tax dodgers. Having a PM who is not paying his fair share of tax is no example to set and if you think living on Centrelink payments is easy look up the human services link and ( if you can negotiate it) check out how much you get for your 'bludging'. NO one wants to live like that...and there are no jobs ( over 6,000 out of work in my area) and now DSP and Carers are being targeted by this nasty Grubby snouts in the trough Govt.

    Strike on, Workers of Australia...may many more of your fellows join you.
    Cranky
    29th Nov 2016
    11:29am
    Why would Centrelink staff want to strike they get paid enough now for the service they give. If you ring up for information some times you are put on hold for up to half an hour. At least when I worked in the public service I gave the public the service they needed and when I acted in the capacity of an officer do work for centrelink I did everything humanly possible to keep the publice happy. Max Jackwitz (Grumpy old pensioner)
    Charlie
    29th Nov 2016
    12:00pm
    As none of these Centrelink staff entitlements have been clearly stated, who can comment?

    Are we expected to be so lacking in common sense that we will support everything that the unions put up.

    Are we expected to support strikes that cause more than inconvenience and extra expense, but have the potential to be a hazard and a health risk to people with chronic illness. Centrelink payments generally go to people who are vunerable.

    Is it not possible to put pressure on the government for a payrise, without putting pressure on everyone.
    kev888
    29th Nov 2016
    12:01pm
    Center-link workers when it comes to pension payments need to remember that it is an entitlement not a welfare payment and treat the clients with a little respect . Pensioners have paid there way.
    marls
    29th Nov 2016
    4:43pm
    Agree it's not welfare it's an entitlement
    jenwho
    29th Nov 2016
    9:28pm
    Agree kev888 and marls
    Jess M
    29th Nov 2016
    12:05pm
    I am surprised that staff at Centrelink have not had more strikes. On the odd occasion I have had to phone Centrelink and wait for ages I appreciate that staff are overworked and underpaid. They also have to put up with most people blaming them for lack of service instead of blaming the government for cutting back on staff. When will this government realise that if you employ more people they pay more tax and they spend all the money on goods and services that keep the economy flowing. Good luck centrelink staff hope you can make gains in more money and more staff although I doubt it with this government.
    Allie
    29th Nov 2016
    12:07pm
    Well said Jess M.
    Tom Tank
    29th Nov 2016
    12:18pm
    Good points and what sort of employer prolongs negotiations for 4 years on enterprise agreements?

    Perhaps if the LNP paid more attention to the latest Auditor-General's report on the massive amount of revenue being lost to the gas and oil industry through Government inaction we would all be better served.

    The Pollies don't have to wait 4 years for a salary increase altho' it appears that due to pressure of business the free travel for retired politicians will continue as the Govt doesn't have time to address it.

    29th Nov 2016
    12:05pm
    Strike or no strike after 1/1/2017 there will be little payment to miss, or receive, for a lot of us. Bloody thieves.
    Gra
    29th Nov 2016
    11:33pm
    And that isn't the fault of Centrelink, they merely implement what the government of the day enacts.
    Mawsk
    29th Nov 2016
    12:10pm
    I see there are still some mean spirited people commenting. Great piece Allie,couldn't have done better myself. What people seem to forget that Centrelink staff were cut by over 25,000 members as well. The current staff are carrying an horrific workload to often incredibly rude and abusive clients, I've witnessed it whilst waiting. I've never had less than great service when there, I hate having to be using it but needs must. And yes the staff are deserved of a rise and change in their conditions, isn't that what we and those before us fought damn hard for. I for one wouldn't settle for no pay rise in three years.
    Allie
    29th Nov 2016
    11:20pm
    Agree Mawsk.
    Hate that I have to depend upon Centrelink as a Carer, but thems the brakes.

    I have found the attrition within Centrelink and Medicare to be the usual 'wear them down and out and them sell them off'....This kind of Capitalism makes me sick and sad....

    No one knows the manner or ending of our life..whether it be at 37 or 67...Maybe one day those arrogant SFR might end up one day finally understanding what we who depend upon it finally experience day,month,year after year...
    Be grateful that the safety net is there...you never know...but then again this neoliberal Govt are determined to destroy the comfort of reassurance that even you SFR/part pensioners take for granted. It is not easy living on the basic pension with DSP needs but we are grateful. The SERVICES have been wound down and we on the bottom rung are at the mercy of this particular Govt and their employees, the Public Service.
    I support the employee...
    Snowwhite
    29th Nov 2016
    12:33pm
    Allie well said. Couldn't have said it any better. This current Federal Govt are only interested in helping the banks, corporations and the rich. It's about time they governed for ALL Australians.
    Allie
    29th Nov 2016
    11:23pm
    Absolutely Snowwhite.
    The most vulnerable need the most support, not those who can support themselves.
    This is the stuff that has been fought for and won so even those who have the most know if all goes pear shaped they will be cared for and not end up stranded and penniless.

    You never know.
    KB
    29th Nov 2016
    12:41pm
    usually there skeleton on so less people will a affected
    KB
    29th Nov 2016
    12:41pm
    usually there skeleton on so less people will a affected
    KB
    29th Nov 2016
    12:41pm
    usually there skeleton on so less people will a affected
    Snowwhite
    29th Nov 2016
    12:50pm
    Unfortunately Charlie the Govt doesn't care nor do they come to the table to honestly work out their differences. Can you imagine Michaela Cash being reasonable? All she does is screech down anyone who doesn't agree with her. The Govt are happy for the workers to go on strike as they can then turn around and blame the Unions as the villains. This Federal Govt are obsessed with getting rid of Unions so their rich business mates can do what they like with their workers as they do in the US. I don't want Australia to end up like the US where the working poor need at least three jobs to survive that's if they can find a job. We are going backwards as a country and workers are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. And before you call me a sad Leftie I'm really not asking for a lot. Just employment for my children and grandchildren and an opportunity for them to be home owners which is truly becoming the great impossible Australian dream. The unemployment numbers are much higher than the Govt admits. They include someone who works for a couple of hours a week in their stats! And unfortunately a lot of people In voterland believe their propaganda especially when it is supported by the MSM.
    TREBOR
    29th Nov 2016
    5:44pm
    Couldn't have said it better myself - and I've been saying the same for a long time now.
    Hardworker
    29th Nov 2016
    6:39pm
    You are SO right Snowwhite, this Govt is obviously following the USA model as never before has the battle been so drawn out and difficult. I retired from Human Services in 2014 when they were trying to negotiate a new Enterprise Agreement as I could see we were not going to get a pay rise anytime soon, and I was right. We were paid appropriately for what we did. I have witnessed conscientious workers and lazy workers in both Govt jobs and private enterprise. They are not asking for too much, they are just trying to retain the conditions that have been hard won over many years by those who have come before us, plus a pay increase that will keep up with the cost of living. And yes the Govt does demonise its own workers for their own ends. Thank goodness we do have Unions as without them to negotiate for us we would be totally exhausted from the battle. This Govt is taking from all the small fry but not from the top end of town who are their buddies and the ones who obviously fund their campaigns.
    Allie
    29th Nov 2016
    11:28pm
    Totally agree.

    Everything you say.

    One hours work a week does not mean you can even pay rent...
    The figure for unemployment is more around 9.2%. For youth it is higher...

    This Govt as Hardworker says, takes from the least and gives $$ to the top end.
    Trickle down Economics has been shown now to be a total failure.

    Catch up on some Economics and how it works in Nations...It is NOT like a household. A sovereign nation does NOT depend upon 'taxes' to pay for social security.

    Start here;
    Do research;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBpm5sVmGYc
    floss
    29th Nov 2016
    3:13pm
    Good on them if I was still at work I would go on strike the way this government is treating its workers. Look what happened in America don't they learn on their study trips or should I say junkets.
    Allie
    29th Nov 2016
    11:29pm
    Exactly
    Crowcrag
    29th Nov 2016
    3:13pm
    They have my support. Obviously understaffed and overworked, they do the best they can as professionally as they can. Walk a mile in their shoes before you complain too much.
    Allie
    29th Nov 2016
    11:30pm
    Yes...they too have a life and hope for a future and probably a mortgage.
    Great.
    Old Man
    29th Nov 2016
    3:38pm
    Having been a union member for all of my working life, I support a worker's right to withdraw labour if negotiations have broken down. If I get inconvenienced then so be it, that's the whole idea. If you have a problem with the proposed strike, please contact the local Federal MP who is the one who can fix, or arrange to fix, the problem which has caused the strike.
    Allie
    29th Nov 2016
    11:30pm
    xxx
    B5YCK
    29th Nov 2016
    3:46pm
    No one has told me how much they earn for the work they do.
    Only if we know, we can be the judge if they are right by going on strike.
    Mawsk
    29th Nov 2016
    11:49pm
    What they earn is irrelevant B5YCK, the issue is the grossly unfair treatment of the staff. They are entitled to an increase in their pay and conditions just as anyone is. The government is to blame for their thuggish tactics ,their total disrespect for anyone in their employ. The LNP have been attacking Medicare in the same way anytime they are in power.
    floss
    29th Nov 2016
    3:49pm
    They can stick their CL payments it is my way of protest. I have had a gut full of this mob.
    Pamiea
    29th Nov 2016
    3:49pm
    Strike cos centrelink are obviously understaffed and underpaid. Get rid of this Liberal governm ent. Bunch of wealthy crooks feathering their own nests.
    fearlessfly
    29th Nov 2016
    5:15pm
    I certainly support the Centrelink staff in this endeavor, they are also the unwilling and undeserving recipients of that B******d Tony Abbott's rapacious attacks on the Public Service and the services a lot of us depend on. It won't affect me as all my interfacing with Centrelink is done online through their App on my phone and tablet, or through MyGov on my PC. I'm ashamed to admit that all three work perfectly for me.
    TREBOR
    29th Nov 2016
    5:48pm
    Rapacious attacks started with Howard and his move to a contracted senior public service group - meaning they were much more amenable to government pressure through firstly, selection, then through the possibility of having their contract terminated. He also opened the door for cronyism in appointments.

    Wee Johnnie - another Backyard Fascist in disguise - thereby negated one of the 'checks and balances' or 'divisions of power' within a so-called democratic society.

    When the Government Of Two Parties is turfed and a new party takes over - they should terminate all those contracted yes-persons, and seek salaried department leaders from within the public service.

    Any stench of corruption, cronyism, or susceptibility to political pressure must be removed from the Public Service.
    Allie
    29th Nov 2016
    11:34pm
    Trebor...You have it in one...Well exposed/explained.
    eggles01
    29th Nov 2016
    10:14pm
    there is a five letter word that fully explains this action========UNION===============
    Gra
    30th Nov 2016
    9:01am
    If only it was that simple eggles01. That is what this government would prefer people to think, it takes the spotlight off them and where the fault really lays, fair and square with those who are supposed to be negotiating this agreement.
    Gra
    29th Nov 2016
    11:27pm
    Strange how politicians can always find the money for their own salary increases, can always find ways to squeeze more out of the public pocket to fund their junkets overseas but when it comes to public servants doing the real work, there is none to spare.
    Mez
    1st Dec 2016
    11:19am
    Centrelink definitely requires heaps more staff for personalised services because there are many people, especially older ones who are not tech savvy nor can afford digital devices.
    It is the HUMANE thing to do besides INCREASING AGE PENSIONS TO EQUAL THOSE OVERSEAS!


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles