21st Mar 2016
Age Pension: will DHS strikes affect your payment?
receipt from atm showing empty bank account

The Department of Human Services (DHS) claims industrial action being taken today by Centrelink staff could affect pensioners in the lead up to Easter. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is planning a full day work stoppage today, with staff employed by the Department of Human Services, Australian Tax Office, Defence Department, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Australian Bureau of Statistics involved.

The union has called the strikes in response to the refusal of the Government to meet its demands, which include protection for staff over casualisation of the workforce, the splitting of shifts, last-minutes changes to rosters and the right to swap jobs during the redundancy process. A pay offer of a two per cent increase per year for three years was rejected by 80 per cent of union members, who want an increase of 2.5 to three per cent.

DHS spokesman Hank Jongen says customers should expect delays, "The lead up to Easter is always an extra busy time because our staff are already working hard in a short week to ensure people are paid before the public holidays."

"This action further stretches our resources and punishes people who need government support. We are concerned the union is encouraging its members to take counterproductive industrial action, which will inconvenience people across Australia, including some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

"We are confident customers' payments will occur as usual and we will do our best to minimise disruptions to services. However, we may have reduced numbers of staff in service centres and on the phone and increased wait times on Monday."

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said it was hypocritical of the DHS to blame striking staff for delays that would affect families as many of the staff affected are fighting for family-friendly working conditions.

"We have working women in Centrelink and Medicare telling us they'd have to give up their jobs at DHS if this agreement went through, with proposals like workers being forced to work anywhere in a major city, different hours and days of work or even split shifts," she said. 

"The reality is that these workers have been fighting for two years to get a fair deal where they can keep those important rights and that's why they're striking.

Customers are advised not to contact Centrelink for non-urgent queries and to use the self-service and online service options where possible.

Strikes by CPSU staff could also affect Easter travel plans for those planning on jetting off from, or into, Australia’s airports. A 24-hour strike across the Department of Immigration and Border Protection is planned for Thursday 24 March, with further rolling strikes planned over the Easter school holidays and beyond.


Read more at The Age

Opinion: Putting the vulnerable at risk

While the right to protest against unfair work practices or poor pay needs to be upheld, hurting people who are only trying to go about their daily business is not the way to do it.

Strikes, work-to-rules, go-slows – all the processes used by union members to get their points across during industrial disputes can often be endured by those who rely on such people to provide services. But when there is an essential Government agency such as Centrelink that this week will already be struggling to cope with the additional demand for services from the least fortunate of people, little can be gained from making things more difficult.

Not only will Centrelink offices be closed for two days over the weekend but those who need to report their income will also have to do so early, from today in fact. Imagine the stress of not being able to report your income to ensure a pension payment is made?

Anyone who has ever visited a Centrelink office or tried to call the DHS will be fully aware that Centrelink services are already stretched, so taking industrial action at any time causes chaos. But to compound such chaos in the short week before Easter is simply uncalled for.

And it’s not just Centrelink customers who will be affected. Yet again families trying to get away for a much-needed break and business travellers trying to get home to their families for Easter will be affected by industrial action at airports across Australia.

Withdrawing labour at times that cause the maximum disruption may seem like a smart and calculated move but it won’t win any support from the public at large who are ultimately the ones who pay the price, in every sense of the word.

Do you think you will be affected by Centrelink staff strike action? Do you agree with the right to strike? Will the proposed disruption at airports make you rethink your travel plans?





    COMMENTS

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    Jurassicgeek
    21st Mar 2016
    9:54am
    "there may be delays in calls being taken"...ever tried to ring Centrelink?...delays are already in place ...another thing they DONT do well is answer phones.
    Penqueen1949
    21st Mar 2016
    10:25am
    Agreed.....
    Aussiefrog
    21st Mar 2016
    10:22am
    They are reasonable demands, good luck to them.
    Old Man
    21st Mar 2016
    10:36am
    How do you know these are reasonable demands? So far we have heard one side of the dispute and until the other side is heard it is a bit premature to make a judgement.

    On the side I heard, it seems that the workers are concerned that they may have to take a transfer to another office. Some of those who are offered a transfer may be unable to accept the offer because of personal reasons and may be forced to resign. As far as I'm aware, the rules regarding transfers were in place when jobs were first offered to those people who now wish to change the rules.

    I also heard that it's Turnbull's fault. This claim makes the disputes purely political and nothing to do with the workers. Turnbull is not the department head with whom the unions should be negotiating nor should the unions expect to be dealing with a PM.
    Retired Knowall
    21st Mar 2016
    12:44pm
    If they got paid for service provided, they would owe the department money. Staffed with the most incompetent people you would ever meet. The clown they have as head (Jongerden) would not know what day it is. he gets on TV and sprukes on at how his department uncovers fraud, but when you notify his department of cases of fraud nothing happens.
    Old Man
    21st Mar 2016
    12:55pm
    Gee Retired Knowall, I can't agree with your description of the frontline people. I have always found them to be courteous and efficient. It's not their fault that the number of staff has been reduced to make waiting times longer.
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    1:17pm
    Not a Problem ! :-) I get seen to Immediately I get to the front of the line up ! :-) Then get told to go and sit and wait with the Harem! :-(
    Usually about an Hour or so ! :-( :-(
    Stretch
    21st Mar 2016
    10:38am
    The right to strike, place bans etc is an ILO convention to which the Government has been a signatory for over 50 years. It is recognised as a means to redress the lesser power that workers have when bargaining with their employer. It has been used for over century to get the conditions that workers now enjoy. Without it working people have only their market value to make gains in leave, salary, dismissal protection, protection against discrimination, hours of work etc.

    The industrial relations system used to have an interventionist role where unions and employers could access the industrial relations commission (now Fair Work Australia) and have disputes such as over pay rates conciliated or arbitrated by the independent umpire.

    Workchoices changed that. Instead of using the conciliation and arbitration powers under the Constituion the legislation was set up under the corporations powers. There are few avenues now for seeking redress because of this.

    Industrial action has not increased because of this, as one may expect. That is because it is illegal in all but the most narrow and heavily regulated circumstance before workers can go on strike, place bans or whatever. Industrial action has decreased significantly over the years in part because of this.

    This strike by Centrelink is extremely unusual and I think I read they've been bargaining for three years now and that the pay offer is less than inflation and with tradeoffs in the form of cuts to current conditions.

    The question is not whether workers should have the right to strike. It is how could you allow workers to maintain and improve their lot - what alternative is there? This is presuming you don't support people to be treated as commodities.
    ray from Bondi
    21st Mar 2016
    11:10am
    fair work australia, a orwellian dept if I have ever heard of one,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministries_of_Nineteen_Eighty-Four
    maelcolium
    21st Mar 2016
    2:53pm
    Good summary. Interesting that the PM has announced an hour ago that unless the Senate passes Industrial Law bills in April they will be tossed out and many crossbenchers will be unable to get back their seats so the hose of review will effectively be broken. Welcome to Australia!
    Aussiefrog
    21st Mar 2016
    3:30pm
    Well said stretch!
    retroy
    21st Mar 2016
    4:35pm
    It is just not Centrelink. Other depts. are striking too at various times and those servicing airports are doing their level best to harm Easter travellers. Many will be families who have saved for a big trip and now they will be inconvenienced. With every right(to strike) that is granted there should be an equal obligation to act responsibility but strikers often ignore that aspect, and deliberately jerk people around while blaming the employer for provoking them.
    kev888
    21st Mar 2016
    10:59am
    Jurassicgeek Totally agree with your comments . I wonder if they will pay my penalties if I default on my Mastercard payments because of centerlinks delay
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    1:20pm
    Put Simply.. Absolutely NO ! :-)
    ray from Bondi
    21st Mar 2016
    11:08am
    it saddens me to read the views of this article, the liberal goverment is trying to turn the public against pensioners, and everybody else that dares to question their DNA, it is the right of australians to strike, I know over the years this has been chipped away but all australian workers have aright to withdraw their labour, what are we finally under a dystopian goverment. look up george orwell's 1984, a prophet if I have ever read one.
    Stretch
    21st Mar 2016
    2:25pm
    Yes, the right to strike is a human right. We'd still have kids down coal mines if it wasn't for unions.
    PlanB
    21st Mar 2016
    2:42pm
    Yes Stretch and we will again if this Lib mob has their way
    Crazy Horse
    21st Mar 2016
    11:15am
    The blame for any disruption lies directly and only with the Abbott/Turnbull Government.

    They have attacked their employees directly and continually. As anyone who has to deal with Centrelink can confirm, it is grossly understaffed to the point where Centrelink is struggling to meet it's obligations to clients. Yet the Liberals led by Michaela Cash continue to slash staff.

    So please direct your criticism to where it belongs, to your local LNP politician.
    PlanB
    21st Mar 2016
    11:40am
    You are dead right Crazy Horse.
    Sundays
    21st Mar 2016
    1:02pm
    I also agree. 3 years to negotiate 2% increase which is not even cpi. Friends tell me they would accept the money but not the unfair changes to conditions. I dont blame them. Work choices by stealth
    Hardworker
    21st Mar 2016
    1:17pm
    You are quite right Crazy Horse and others. As a retired Human Services Dept worker (Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support, Rehabilitation Services) we chose to sit on the old Enterprise Agreement rather than accept what we were being offered as it was going to take us many steps backwards in pay and conditions. Just remember that those who came before us (our parents) fought long and hard for better conditions for workers. It IS Work Choices by stealth. The Govt just wants money to pay for all the promises they have made so they have attacked those that can least resist, pensioners and public servants. Public servants do not want to strike, they are being forced to. Only those who work there can tell you why.
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    1:25pm
    The Office is There in all its Glory ! :-) But He never is ? :-(
    Jess M
    21st Mar 2016
    11:20am
    Hi Debbie

    First let me say that everyone should be very sorry for any pensioner who will suffer because of this strike. But Centrelink staff have been underpaid and overworked for years.

    I am retired, but strongly believe in unions. I do know that nearly every condition workers have today was won by good strong unionists. The reports say that workers have tried to negotiate but are getting nowhere.

    I am positive people don't want to strike and loose money. Politicians don’t have to fight to get a pay increase. Politicians don’t have to ask for better conditions. They get great pensions and allowances till the day they die. I don’t begrudge them that, however, let them try and live and retire on the money that most ordinary workers get.

    I believe in a fair days work for a fair days pay. Whenever I have phoned Centrelink even though it takes a long time to be answered (most centres are understaffed) the people have always been friendly and helpful.

    We should be asking the people responsible to sit down and negotiate a fair outcome for these workers.
    PlanB
    21st Mar 2016
    11:43am
    Jess yes same here the staff I have ever had anything to do with have been wonderful and very polite and helpful --- I say bloody good luck to them!

    Yes I do feel for those it will effect but it has to be done --
    THANKS TO THE BLOODY GOVERNMENT!
    Glennie Boy
    21st Mar 2016
    11:28am
    It is not the staff of government offices who should be vilified here. Government offices, such as Centrelink, are grossly under-staffed and under-funded. It is extremely difficult to deal with these departments, even at the best of times. And it is the staff who bear the brunt of vicious complaints.
    At the same time, our fat-faced pollies boast of their generosity to those on the lower rungs (while at the same time, raking it away in deceitful back-room deals).
    Instead of attacking the workers, how about directing your disapproval at our valiant representatives?
    sharjj
    21st Mar 2016
    11:32am
    It's always the average person who is disadvantaged with strikes. After seeing the damage and stupidity of strikes in my early working career I would never support strike action no matter how worthy the cause. We have to think differently. There has to be other solutions.
    PlanB
    21st Mar 2016
    11:46am
    They have tried other means sharjj, they have not worked this is the only way, what other way does a worker have to fight?
    Rae
    21st Mar 2016
    2:34pm
    Can you think of one other solution?
    What other solutions worked to help achieve pay equity and decent conditions?

    The only thing I can think of is boycott and I believe suggesting that is illegal.
    Stretch
    21st Mar 2016
    2:40pm
    Yes Rae, boycotts by other workers is illegal and has been since the Howard government. Other workers who provide services or goods to Centrelink cannot boycott delivery or withhold services, for instance, in support of the Centrelink workers. If workers could boycott eg delivery of food and beverages to the government MPs then a deal would be very quickly brokered. But that is illegal and attracts massive fines now.
    Gra
    21st Mar 2016
    11:37pm
    What might these other solutions be sharjj? If you are going to criticize what is being done, offer a solution. Chances are if you can't , there isn't a viable one. The only thing workers have to bargain with is their labour.
    Charlie
    21st Mar 2016
    11:34am
    The pre-reading says this strike is against the overcasualization of the workforce.
    Yes we have noticed the overcasualization, but who is causing, it staff or management.
    One doesn't seem to know what the other is doing.
    ex PS
    21st Mar 2016
    8:05pm
    Casualisation of the workforce is generally used as a strategy for forcing medieval conditions on employees. If you are on a three or six month contract you will not insist on being afforded all of the conditions of contract you may be entitled to. If you force the issue you will be given the conditions you are entitled to but will not have your contract renewed when the time comes.
    I have come across cases where an employee has had extended six month contracts for three years, the job description was changed slightly every twelve months to avoid Union intervention.
    Gra
    21st Mar 2016
    11:43pm
    Employing casual staff has been on the increase across government departments, both state and federal for years now. This helps them boost the number of new jobs being created and drops the level of unemployment, just all smoke and mirrors. It really does nothing for the economy because those people doing casual work or on short term contracts are denied the ability to plan for the future, rather they just live from pay to pay.
    PlanB
    21st Mar 2016
    11:37am
    Maybe they would answer the phones if they had enough staff, they are run off their feet now and have been fighting for a lousy bit of a rise for over 2 years.
    I am very sorry for those that it will effect but this is the only way the workers can get their point across.
    jackie
    21st Mar 2016
    11:39am
    Peasants have always suffered and always will. Just over the Grand Prix public transport delays and inconveniences. I am so glad that I still work and don't have to deal with Centrelink. What a cruel time to choose to strike.
    PlanB
    21st Mar 2016
    11:47am
    It has to be done at a vital time or no one takes any notice.
    Jess M
    21st Mar 2016
    11:48am
    Sharjj please read some history of unions. Coal miners strike achieved holidays with pay which flowed on to other industries. The 40 hours and 38 hour week was hard fought for. Health and safety regulations were none existent until unions. Superannuation, equal pay for women. The list goes on.

    Unfortunately too many businesses put profits before their workers and without unions workers rights will be eroded. I think sometimes employers forget who does the work that makes the profits.

    You only have to look at the money and shares paid to many CEO's to get a picture that doesn't always appear fair to workers.
    sharjj
    21st Mar 2016
    4:42pm
    Yes,Jess, Unions achieved a great deal in the beginning but just became ridiculous in their demands. It's a tactic for a different time. Social media can rally support of the people rather than ostracize them by disrupting travel plans and delaying payments. There is an election around the corner....
    Gra
    21st Mar 2016
    11:56pm
    What really annoys me are those people who are quite happy to enjoy the benefits won by unionists but refuse to join a union and then have the gall to say they are no longer of any benefit.
    If professionals can have their unions (Society of Chartered Accountants, Australian Lawyers Alliance, Australian Medical Association to name a few). Then you have your various Chambers of Commerce - all unions by another name. Why can't the workers band together to have a stronger voice?
    PlanB
    22nd Mar 2016
    8:21am
    Yes I agree if a person does NOT join the Union then he/ she should NOT enjoy the benefits the Unions get
    ex PS
    22nd Mar 2016
    11:05am
    As a Union Activist I was amazed at the high numbers of Union haters who joined as soon as they got into trouble and had the expectation that the Union should fight their battle for them.
    I can only remember one anti unionist I had any respect for and that was a lady who offered to come into work on Labor Day because she did not believe in unionism, this lady also donated the equivelant of her Union fees to charity. I did and always will respect this woman. She expressed her values with respect and class.
    I personally do not believe in compulsary Unionism as I do not want someone who is not committed in any organisation that I believe in.
    I also agree with you PlanB.
    tj
    21st Mar 2016
    11:50am
    Just another example of union hierarchy heads who are bucking to get into politics using the members as their puppets to achieve their goals .The public are just simply collateral damage
    Rod63
    21st Mar 2016
    7:04pm
    You don't know that!
    ex PS
    22nd Mar 2016
    11:13am
    tj, you obviously have little or no idea of how Unions work. A Union official working within state federal government can not order the members to go on strike. Strike action requires a vote to do so from a majority of the workers involved, I have seen many actions proposed by Union officials voted down and not proceeded with after a vote by members.
    Actually things need to be very bad indeed for Public Servants to go on strike.
    Pamiea
    21st Mar 2016
    11:52am
    They obviously have good reason!!
    Ted
    21st Mar 2016
    11:54am
    This is hard for both sides but perhaps the workers should try to access the service to see that you don't ever get answered on the phone without being on hold for hours on end, lining up is a nightmare. I think the issue is that the government needs to put an electronic service in place and only have those access the centre that do not have access to a computer and the internet. For example, older people who have never used a computer or the homeless. Perhaps its a case of its a dinosaur and needs to be updated to reflect modern technologies.
    Ted
    21st Mar 2016
    11:56am
    I realise if they did this it would create more unemployment, but we need a modern efficient government with modern systems. It time that taxpayers have a greater say in these outdated systems that cost millions of dollars a year to run and just get worse every year!
    Lecheman
    21st Mar 2016
    2:54pm
    The 'modern technologies' are continually being implemented. I have worked in the IT government sector for many years but the problem for implementing this technology falls to the political parties that dictate the government budgets. I witnessed one department IT budget fall by a 100 million. Sounds like a lot hey! But technology is not cheap, the millions spent in (for example), data storage alone can be mind-boggling.
    And technology does not necessarily reduce job flow, a better way to describe it would be it redefines job roles. A good example is me. My current IT knowledge is less relevant nowadays so I have undertaken study in website development.
    maggie
    21st Mar 2016
    11:56am
    We are being told to use Centrelink's online services. Have been trying all morning and the servers are down. Therefore no reporting = no pension payment. Assume Centrelink employees will get their pay on time.
    Ted
    21st Mar 2016
    12:45pm
    that's terrible Maggie. Seems the government just can't get it right no matter what they do. Maybe they need to privatise it and get it done right.

    Just reading about the NDIS roll out in Queensland. I hope its not going to turn into the debacle that the new Consumer Directed Care is turning out to be in aged care. They are paying up to 80% of their individualised budgets on admin costs.
    Crazy Horse
    21st Mar 2016
    1:42pm
    They privatised the CES that was working. This service was replaced with private for profit (non) job providers. A total fail in every aspect except profits for shareholders.
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    3:48pm
    If your not on their books looking for a Job they are not getting paid !
    What A Racket ! :-( Only a Politician could have come up with that Scam ! :-(
    ex PS
    22nd Mar 2016
    11:18am
    Ted, I have never seen a government service that has been privatised where the service was better or cheaper for the customer, cheaper for the government maybe, because private companies can generally cut costs by cutting staff and services. But generally the customer is worse off and the government is better off because it does not have to accept responsability for poor performance any more.
    Billy
    21st Mar 2016
    12:10pm
    What's different - could access the Pope quicker.

    21st Mar 2016
    12:24pm
    The "H" in DHS stands for a misnomer with the way this department treats the people seeking their assistance.
    Sundays
    21st Mar 2016
    1:08pm
    They treat their staff the same way with scant regard
    KB
    21st Mar 2016
    12:27pm
    I am sure that Centrelink will have skeleton staff on to deal with pensions. Luckily my daughter does not have to report her earnings this week, Centrelink need to ensure that people who need to report and will not be able to get through on time be pemalised. I agree with the strike action. Good luck to them.
    KSS
    21st Mar 2016
    12:37pm
    These strikes will not affect me at all. However, would taking this action last week or next week have been any less valid or urgent? No. This action has less to do with the 'issues' and more about causing the most inconvenience to the most people and an attempt at embarrassing the Government. These are public servants in Government Departments, a cohort considered by many to be already privileged. You'd think that any action would begin with getting the public on side first. Taking action which has the potential to disrupt payments close to or over a long weekend will hardly endear them to those left without funds. Likewise, the customs and immigration staff walking off the job all day on Thursday before one of the busiest flying periods of the year is unlikely to win much support from travellers left stranded at airports round the country - and even overseas - regardless of whether there is merit in their action or not.

    Today's action will achieve nothing - nor will the planned walk out on Thursday. Except the wrath of those affected.
    maggie
    21st Mar 2016
    12:54pm
    Yes they certainly will not get the public on side striking the way they have organised it in order to cause the most inconvenience and in some cases hardship.
    Stretch
    21st Mar 2016
    2:34pm
    Getting or keeping the public onside won't achieve anything for Centrelink staff. The millions of complaints to DHS about slow or broken service has achieved almost nothing. How and why would the public fight for Centrelink staff to get a decent pay rise and not have their pay cut?
    Lecheman
    21st Mar 2016
    2:41pm
    KSS - The APS has long lost the 'privileged worker' status. A lot of staff work in toxic environments treated poorly by their management. Productivity is the key phrase used in the government departments. And from what I witnessed, the worse the manager was towards their staff, the higher up the ladder they ascended.
    And the whole idea of the strike is to cause the biggest impact possible to the community, thus raising awareness and attempting to force the government to pay attention to the plight of the workers.
    The LNP has long been enemies of the APS and their 'privileged worker' status, and they have paid dearly in blood, sweat and tears.
    brainstraina
    21st Mar 2016
    3:34pm
    Not to mention the effect on the ECONOMY, the further downturn of which will adversely affect us all - forevermore.

    Should we be afraid for the futures of our children and their children?

    No doubt that Bill is gleefully rubbing his hands together and wearing the SmugShortenSmirk as the present Government is again being lambasted.
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    1:11pm
    CLOSED...OPEN ? You wont notice the Difference ?? :-)
    Hardworker
    21st Mar 2016
    1:25pm
    Very biased comments Debbie. How much do you earn as a Journo? A LOT more than an ordinary public servant I bet! Workers only strike when they have tried every other avenue to get a fair go because they lose pay. So much for Fair Go Aussie!
    KSS
    21st Mar 2016
    5:36pm
    "Workers only strike when they have tried every other avenue to get a fair go". Really?

    Workers strike when their Union tells them to Hardworker.
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    6:06pm
    Governments strike when Democracy doesn't work for them ! :-)
    Lecheman
    21st Mar 2016
    6:16pm
    Actually KSS, that really depends on the Union in question as to how many workers will walk. For example, the CPSU will call a strike, but that does not mean every Union member will walk.

    Most workers prefer their pay rather than the loss of which they will incur if they walk. The amount of strikers walking off their premises in this instance should be a good indication of the frustrations they are having to endure and the period of time involved.
    Stretch
    22nd Mar 2016
    10:29am
    KSS, I doubt that you've ever been a member of a union let alone gone on strike. Unions do not 'tell' their members to go on strike. That is extraordinary, to make such a claim. Union members are not placid sheep, they're not stupid or 'tricked' and there's no way union leaders can tell them to strike! It is put to a vote, every time. Union leaders WILL tell members their options, and if bargaining has been going on for too long one of those will be industrial action. If anything, unions take too long before striking, something that can quickly resolve an impasse.
    ex PS
    22nd Mar 2016
    11:25am
    Stretch, is 100% correct the Union is the members, no member approval, no strike. People should not believe LNP propaganda and start thinking for themselves, maybe they should try making informed comments instead of blindly spreading political drivel.
    KSS, really have you ever had a job or dealt with a Union?
    scouserdog
    21st Mar 2016
    1:49pm
    Centrelink staff work very hard for very low pay. Their working conditions are appalling - they and their families are regularly threatened by their clientele. They are ignored by their management. Staffing levels are far too low. I think their demands are very reasonable.
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    2:28pm
    :-)
    Lecheman
    21st Mar 2016
    2:18pm
    My thoughts are the drama behind this is more media than actual impact - but it does sound good hey, the poor old pensioners will not be paid due to the pitiful excuse of Unions holding their payments at bay.
    The CPSU no longer hold the numbers it used to in the APS since the LNP deregulated the Unions, years back. As I mentioned, the media's report is far more dramatic than the facts.

    The government senior executive management and respective Minister's would have known about this strike action for a while, as the Union would have threatened this level of action. Keeping the trend this current government has for its people, the strike action was inevitable.
    There would be strategic contingencies and other redundancies put in place for situations such as this one. The question here is how far the government will go to make their point.
    Don't you find it intriguing how the politician's can get their very own 'overdue' pay rise so easily, and yet the workers have to fight for every hard-earned dollar!
    PlanB
    21st Mar 2016
    2:41pm
    Oh yes never a hold up with the pollies getting THEIR rise and a decent one at that!
    Hardworker
    21st Mar 2016
    2:48pm
    Your last sentence says it all Lecheman. The previous Enterprise Agreement went from 2011 to 2014 with a nominal expiry date of 30 June 2014. I left at the end of 2014 and am glad I did, not doing what most public servants do and wait to leave after a pay increase for a better payout. It has become a case of who can hold out the longest. People need to understand that the workers are being held to ransom and to accept the Govt's paltry offer sends workers backwards. Everyone needs appropriate pay increases to keep up with the cost of living especially in this age of buck passing as many costs as possible onto the consumer. Hence look up everything online and you pay if you want paperwork sent to you. The consumer gets to pay for the computer, printer, paper and expensive ink. Heaven help us if our computers breakdown and we don't have the money to replace them!
    PlanB
    21st Mar 2016
    3:09pm
    Yes Hardworker, thats why I always like to get paper statement -- costs a fortune to print out all those statements -- and a LOT do not even have a computer.
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    3:37pm
    Me too ! I get Paper Statements ! :-) I like to know what I'm being Ripped Off for :-( And from what I read, Half of it is for "Connection" and "Service" ? Have to pay their CEO's somehow ! :-(
    brainstraina
    21st Mar 2016
    3:44pm
    Most 'media reports' should be taken with a grain of salt.

    The media has much for which to answer in regard to the 'brainwashing' of the consumer.
    Biddy
    21st Mar 2016
    2:52pm
    Perhaps this is the only way these people can get through to Malcolm Turnbull and his slash and grab Government,he is trying to control everything and not answer to the people ,staff are like us fed up with all the rubbish that everyone is having to put up with,they are tax payers and have rights another thing that they want to take away so they are very reasonable demands and hopefully they will get what they are striking for good on them I say should be more of it
    PlanB
    21st Mar 2016
    3:04pm
    Amen to that Biddy
    brainstraina
    21st Mar 2016
    4:03pm
    Aww! Biddy, my friend. That's a bit tough. Poor old Malcolm personally doesn't really have much input in these matters.
    I agree that unions have a place and have done some good.
    On the other hand, their greed and power hunger has, in the past 50 years, caused much hardship and heartbreak to very many and also protected the bludgers and criminals in the workplace.
    We sometimes forget about the criminal element in some unions.
    I cannot blindly follow them.
    Crazy Horse
    21st Mar 2016
    5:02pm
    Malcolm Turnbull could end all this by simply directing his Ministers to cease the nastiness and public service bashing instigated by Tony Abbott and instead negotiate in good faith.

    The Commonwealth Government should be a model employer . At the moment it is just ideological nonsense driving it's industrial relations agenda to it's own employees.
    ex PS
    22nd Mar 2016
    11:41am
    brainstraina, sorry to dissalusion you but it's not always the Union that protects bludgers in the workplace. A Union official I have come across many more cases where bludgers are protected by incompetant managers than the Union ever has.
    I have seen cases where I have told managers that the Union would support the counselling of a member for inapropriate behaviour, where the manager refused to do anything because of the work involved. Of course when questioned by other people in the section his response was "I can't do anything because of the Union".
    Union bashing is often the way out for lazy, incompetant, inefective managers and business owners.
    You as a member should not be following them you should be influencing them.
    Biddy
    21st Mar 2016
    3:03pm
    Perhaps these people are working very hard to keep everyone happy,if there is any problems then it should be Malcolm Tunbull and his Government should shoulder the responsibility not the workers ,if the Liberals think they can do as they please then they are being shown that they cannot get away with treating people like 2nd class citizens it is very important to be treated with respect as after all we are suppose to be equal,not segregated as they would like and great to read the unions are standing beside the workers and this is what they are very useful for getting the rights of workers and making sure that the Government do not get away with anything
    Old Fella
    21st Mar 2016
    4:26pm
    The effort by Government to trim costs reflects in their relentless and ill thought out pursuit of restructuring Government Departments, Downsizing Government Dept's and their employees; Demanding productivity increases with less resources being input.
    The current LNP Government and LNP Parties will always philosophically keep to their ethos and first trim services to the masses rather than the Corporate monopolies and other like minded , minders' of their philosophy. ( Prime Ministers Dept, Lands Dept, Minerals and Resources and the like)
    Good on the staff at Centrelink and other truly Public Service Departments which are being being stripped of resources needed to provide critical Public Services for making the point about the inequities currently prevailing in consequence of the withdrawal and reduction of resources to operate. This strike action should be applauded and considered an ethical expression of conscious Public Service awareness to and for the Australian Public.
    Rosscoe
    21st Mar 2016
    4:36pm
    Just as Penny Wong said last week in the senate: "This is not a dictatorship". As much as the LNP Federal Government would like it to be a dictatorship, Australian workers have the right to take industrial action. Without this rightng conditions, none of us would have ever received superannuation benefits, decent wages, safer working conditions, etc. I've got no time for all the freeloaders who expect decent working conditions, but are too tight to be union members.
    tactful
    21st Mar 2016
    4:37pm
    I have read all 65 comments posted already.
    What a pack of whinging and whining old farts you all are!!!
    I have never read such a lot of tripe in my life. I have to wait, Who the hell do you all think you are. Age does not give a ticket to the front of any line including the toilet.

    Have any of you ever worked for DSS, CES, CSDA and now Centrelink , all those listed prior were the previous incarnations of Centrelink. If not shut up, you have NO idea of what a staff member has to put up with, you have not been spat on, threatened with knives, followed home, called on the phone, harassed while trying to have lunch, yelled at, called every name in the book plus some, vilified by non Australians and indigenous people, told you have to do more with less on the ground staff, unsupported by management and the list goes on and on.
    People who work for Centrelink do so simply because they are committed to providing the best possible service they are able to for people who are unemployed, with disabilities, aged etc.
    Yet for some reason the general public expect, and I mean expect that "As I have paid tax I am entitled" to get this or that payment/benefit. Taxes paid do not all go into the Welfare bucket, what about Defence, Treasury, Tax, just to name a few, where does the money for those and all the other government departments come from, yes the taxes that we pay.
    Oh my, if I fall into the whinging and whining of you lot I will pull the pin. I have my brains and I intend to exercise them and make sensible comments.
    I am almost convinced the opinion of our youth's attitude to the old is warranted, they (old people) expect us to step aside for them, to let them go first, they just whinge and complain about everything. Sounds about right to me, in am just 62 and this is not me.
    Let's talk about ringing Centrelink, over one million calls hit the phones per day, so how many staff would you employ to deal with the volume. Limit the time for calls, why aren't we all entitled to ask the questions we need answered whilst on the phone.
    Going to the office, sure, have any of you bothered to see the decline in the number of bums on seats, well have you. Probably not. My customer service centre had a staff of 100 when i joined the public service and when I retired the number was 32, still dealing with the increasing number of age, unemployed etc customers as efficiently and as quickly as they can, they still put up with the same level of abuse and are still expected to be all smiles and gratitude.
    When DSS and CES were disbanded and formed into CSDA renamed Centrelink pay rates were met at the lower rate. Would you take calls from abusive people or see face to face people to swear and abuse you for peanuts, probably not.
    My Age Pension age husband, receives a small part age pension, is happy to sit and he watches how people present to the staff, how they treat the staff and he is appalled by the disgusting behaviour of those people, some of the rudest people he has seen have been the older citizens.
    Guess it is about time old farts took a chill pill, unless you have a job or business to get to there is nothing in your day that cannot wait. So why not organise yourselves better, makes sure you have all the info you need and write down what it is you want to know., that way you wont waffle on about stuff that has nothing to do with what you want.
    By the way everything you need to know about Social Security Act is on the web and is easily accessible try using it.
    Sorry but you disgust me, you live in the past and don't give a damn about anyone but yourselves, funny sounds just like the youth of today, perhaps they learnt their bad behaviour from you
    Old Fella
    21st Mar 2016
    5:15pm
    Sorry Tactful , whilst you offer contradiction by your penname you certainly do not read to well or rather comprehend all you read. I however applaud your right to present long winded comment. It is most regrettable that such a "Tactful" person can be so easily and unnecessarily disgusted. Try some of your own medicine - Chill Pill- it would possibly better serve you than entering any conversation of more than one person without considering or even listening to that one.
    Stretch
    21st Mar 2016
    6:13pm
    Now that's telling us all 'what for', Tactful!! Your long (slightly untactful) comment has given me a good chuckle.
    But in seriousness, I have enormous sympathy for Centrelink staff being subjected to appalling behaviour and aggression from customers that you've described - not nice.
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    6:22pm
    The only ones I've ever seen spit at an Employee are Nighty Clad Johnny come lately's Who's DEMANDS were not met as their Perceive Entitlements were not met ! :-( :-(
    Jess M
    21st Mar 2016
    4:40pm
    I think Malcolm Turnbull does have input in these matters. That is why he is bringing back both houses of Parliament back for an extraordinary sitting in April to deal with industrial relations laws, saying he will call for a double dissolution election if the bills are not passed.

    There are laws already in place to deal with unions suspected of wrong doing. While I disagree totally with any wrong doing of any union or any business for that matter, let us not forget that some unions have to be tough. 193 workers were killed on the job last year in Australia. 22 have been killed so far this year. They are the deaths. So how many have been injured?

    Without unions it would be much worse. Take for example deaths of miners in China last year 931 Its the first time the death toll dropped below 1,000 workers for the year. Not counting all those injured. Many believe the number of deaths are higher and there have been cover ups.

    I firmly believe the reason workers rights are maintained is because of our union Movement. Let's not go backwards. Often business care much more for their shareholders than than do for the people working to make those profits.
    Crazy Horse
    21st Mar 2016
    5:14pm
    If Turnbull and co were really interested in corruption they'd set up a Federal ICAC. Trouble is they'd catch too many of their own.

    Union Bashing is just the last resort of every Liberal Government in electoral trouble since there has been a Liberal Party. What would be surprising would be if they weren't Union bashing.

    Stand by for a manufactured national security crisis between now and the election.
    Lecheman
    21st Mar 2016
    6:08pm
    You are on the ball 'Crazy Horse'!
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    6:09pm
    I'll dive under the bed when they start that again ! :-)
    ex PS
    22nd Mar 2016
    1:35pm
    For every bribe taker there is someone offering a bribe, they are equally guilty and so they should be punnished in the same way. Why isn't the LNP talking about corrupt business heads who are paying bribes?
    Jess M
    21st Mar 2016
    4:54pm
    To Tactful,
    How sad you must be. If you had read all the comments as you say you have you would note that nearly all of them are in favour of Centrelink staff. Maybe you should read them again.
    PlanB
    22nd Mar 2016
    8:32am
    Tactfull I have said quite a few time I am ALL FOR the Centrelink staff and feel for them immensely, I am sure you have a lot of dead beats to contend with as well as lousy wages
    particolor
    22nd Mar 2016
    7:35pm
    The Cenrelink Staff here are Wonderful ! :-) :-)
    Its what they have to put up with that Aint ! :-( :-(
    Oars
    21st Mar 2016
    5:04pm
    We see another hangup from the old 1060's where unions ran this country. Considering these staff are well paid, better than any other Western Country- what do they want? A free trip to Dizneyland once a year- ot would they prefer free air fares across the globe. fair go- most of these airport bods would not get such an easy job anywhere else in the world. -that is what they decided as they immigrated here from their old country- we could hear them sniggering " what an easy job that is, and great pay ". I sympethize with Centrelink staff as they have been roped in with the airport "stand-over" mob. I wonder what would happen if one of the family of the striking airport mob needed their pension this week ? Eh ?
    Oars
    21st Mar 2016
    5:08pm
    Correction. I meant another hangup from the old 1960's... The rest is the same. Thanks.
    bebby
    21st Mar 2016
    5:51pm
    Oats, I am a worker from the old 1960's and worked in a hot, non-airconditioned building. The union stood up for the workers under the threat of retaliation from the head honcho. We stood our ground and were provided portable air conditioners. The first one delivered went to the head honcho. He wasn't even a paid up member. Maybe some of the unions today are over the top with their demands, but they certainly looked after the workers back then. I am proud to have been a paid up member.
    Crazy Horse
    21st Mar 2016
    7:03pm
    What they want is enough staff and resources to do the job the Parliament has ordered them to do by legislating.

    What they want is that their wages will keep up with inflation.

    What they want is too retain the conditions they and their forebears have won by over a century of hard slog.

    Above all they want and have every right to expect is some respect from their employers instead of the continual denigration they get from the Liberals..
    Stretch
    21st Mar 2016
    7:20pm
    Never heard of free trips overseas being won by unions ;). But there are ambit claims from both sides, which is normal in any bargaining. I don't agree that unions asked for too much. They have always pushed the envelope and gone on strike for things such as a 35 or 38 hour week, maternity leave, annual leave etc. Every time employers and Tory governments have screamed the sky is falling. Every time when things settle down these things are taken for granted, as normal. And happily accepted by freeloaders who never joined their union or took action.
    ex PS
    22nd Mar 2016
    11:56am
    Oars, I was in an Infantry unit, I have been abused, bastardised, humiliated and run to exhaustion by the best. I have also worked in a government department where I observed what goes on when the public are in contact with counter staff. I would never cope I am not tough enough.
    99% of the people coming in were respectful, considerate and just wanted to conduct their business and go. That left the 1% who were obnoxious, rude, loud and sometimes violant.
    These heroes know full well that the person sitting across the counter are unable to defend themselves in any way, they can't answer back, they can't argue their point or affend these bottom feeders in any way. These cowards know this and come in ready for a fight they can not lose and as cowards do when they find a target that can't fight back they tend to go to extremes.
    Given that most service staff handle over a 100 clients a day put yourself in their place. The law of averages tells you that you are likely to be abused for doing your job nearly every day.
    ex PS
    21st Mar 2016
    7:58pm
    A worker is the same as a small business operator. They have a product for sale, that product is labour, they have every right to charge what they think is fair for the product they sell and they have every right to bargain to ensure they are working under fair and humane conditions. As far as striking when it will do the most harm, that comes under the heading of taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves, much the same as increasing petrol prices and accomodation prices during holiday season.
    Over the last 15 years the government has used Public Servants as a scapegoat for its own inadequate management.
    Much like it is using the retirees now it has been using Public Servants as a target to draw attention away from the main problems with Australias fundemental financial problems.
    For decades successive governments have been forcing employees to take voluntary retirements and have reduced the numbers of front line staff to numbers where it is almost impossible for them to undertake the duties of their employment to the best of their ability. In some cases staff levels have been halved where client numbers have increased dramatically, but notably management positions seem to stay the same or even increase.
    It would not be so bad if these job cuts were really about saving money, I and many of my former coleagues have either come back and worked in the departments they had left as contractors or have been told to come back and see our managers after the compulsary period of absence after taking early retrenchment to get our jobs back. It's all a scam to make it look like the government is doing something about waste but it is costing the tax payer more.
    For all those who applauded the sacking of Public Servants, did you really think you could reduce the number of workers without having an effect on the service provided? For every action their is a reaction and we are now seeing the effect of reducing the numbers of frontline Public Servants, and most of the population seemed to be elated when it happened.
    particolor
    21st Mar 2016
    8:33pm
    Well said ! I knew there would be future Trouble !
    Lecheman
    22nd Mar 2016
    12:40am
    I found while working in the APS the government-in-power heavily influenced the accepted behaviours in the APS. The present government has had a vast increase in workplace harassment, and other abuse (cannot remember their name but a psyche evaluation of department where I worked rated managers as base-sociopaths at a one in three ratio).

    Reducing staff numbers and yet expecting similar or higher output is the norm. The protected positions are usually from the EL2 level up, ut I did hear one department targetted its EL2's...all nasty business.

    Is it no wonder that staff are using the 'strike' approach? Although, I personally believe the current government does not give a damn towards the general workers.
    particolor
    22nd Mar 2016
    8:15pm
    Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians :-(
    ex PS
    23rd Mar 2016
    9:15pm
    Strike cancelled, why? Because the Union Members are willing to do what this government is not willing to do, they are putting the welfare of Australians before the ideoligical BS of their organisation! Well done Union Members. LNP take note it's not too late to show some moral backbone.
    particolor
    23rd Mar 2016
    9:30pm
    :-) :-)
    Wyzie
    24th Mar 2016
    7:18pm
    Of course strike action is designed to cause maximum disruption and inconvenience. Who cares about public support, strikes are intended to impact the employer, either financially, logistically or their reputation. The employer in this case is the Federal Government, so they should be there target of customers vitriol.
    Also earlier comments regarding costs incurred due to delayed payments can be claimed as compensation from Centrelink, as long as it is their fault. Failing to report for example is the customers fault. However if costs are incurred due to payments being delayed, then claim compensation for those costs. As an ex-employee of Centrelink I have witnessed compensation approved for customers financially impacted due to administration errors.
    I also fully support the strike action, after working in a Centrelink call center for 5 years, I can attest to the enormous stress of dealing with customers who are often difficult, if not abusive. Continuously studying and training to keep up with legislation, procedures, time limits, customer knowledge, micro management, and political changes whilst being constantly tested, rated and critiqued... all for too little pay and appreciation.
    Stretch
    24th Mar 2016
    7:33pm
    Yep, read http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au
    pfbnug
    26th Mar 2016
    2:25am
    Interesting to note that the "fascists" at the DSIB deferred their strike to provide security for the people at a dangerous time, whilst those" lovely, caring people at the DHS" as usual put their wants above service to the people who need them.
    particolor
    26th Mar 2016
    8:58pm
    Yep ! :-(
    ex PS
    27th Mar 2016
    10:54am
    Interesting that national and peronal security ranks the same as inconvieniance to the public to some people.
    I think that you have the Public Service confused with a charity organisation, these people are payed to do a job they are discouraged by their bosses the government from taking a personal interest in the problems of the public. Such an interest would be seen as bias and would trigger disciplinary action.
    I once attended a meeting with a senior manager in the Public Service who explained that we now had three levels of service, gold, sliver and bronze. they were allocated to Government Representatives, Senior Management and the clients. Guess who was gold and who was bronze?
    By government proclamation Public Servants are no longer employed to serve the public, this is not their choice.
    Stretch
    27th Mar 2016
    11:21am
    Ex PS has hit a fundamental point. Public servants are not charity workers and the public have no right to expect them to behave as such. They have the same rights as every worker to be paid, and paid a decent wage and to have decent working conditions. Our taxes pay for their labour, but our right to tell them what they should do must be done through our elected politicians, they are the ultimate bosses of the public sector.


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