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Issue #1674      February 25, 2015

ATO workers to join public sector actions

Workers in the Australian Tax Office are moving a step closer to taking industrial action, as discontent over the Abbott government’s industrial relations agenda deepens across the public service.

Following feedback from delegates and members in Tax, the Community and Public Sector Union has decided to apply for a protected action ballot to be held in late April.

The move follows the offer of a new agreement from the ATO that strips conditions and rights, and cuts jobs - in return for longer working hours and a below-inflation pay rise.

Tax is set to join a growing number of colleagues across the public service protesting against new agreements that slash their conditions and rights in return for annual pay offers of between 0% and 1% a year.

Last week workers in Human Services and Veterans’ Affairs took action, while Defence workers were hit with a proposed deal that would cut their pay and conditions.

Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood said: “Industrial action is always a last resort and members don’t take this step lightly but they are deeply concerned with this government’s attack on their pay, conditions and rights.

“Last week Tax workers were told they would have to cop a new agreement that demands they work an extra five days a year, remove critical workplace rights and conditions – in return for a 0.8% pay deal that would see them go backwards. It’s a toxic combination that public servants increasingly are coming to expect from Senator Eric Abetz’s unworkable bargaining rules,” Ms Flood said.

“Over the course of almost a year of bargaining negotiations every proposal that we have seen seeks to take far more away than it gives. Meanwhile the work in Tax piles up. Workers know how vital the work they do is to the economy, it’s a crying shame that this government doesn’t value them to the same degree.”

Tax workers have seen 3,000 of their colleagues – or one in eight - lose their jobs with a further 1,700 jobs slated to go in the next two years.

Bargaining for 165,000 Commonwealth public servants has been under way since last April. Agreements in 117 agencies expired on June 30, 2014.

Next article – Coalition’s climate policy betrays future generations

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