THE Community and Public Sector Union’s campaign to protect the rights, conditions and pay of thousands of public sector workers reached Canberra today with a well attended stop work meeting.
Members of the CPSU walked off the job for a half-day strike gathered at the Canberra Convention Centre to be addressed by the CPSU President Alistair Waters and Secretary Nadine Flood.
“Already, across the nation, thousands of public sector workers have walked out on strike and gathered together to protest the Abbott Government’s attack on their rights, conditions and pay,” CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said.
“Now it’s time to bring their message to the nation’s capital – public sector workers will fight to protect their rights, conditions and pay from this unprecedented assault by the Abbott Government.
“This is the largest industrial action taken by Commonwealth public servants in a generation. Public sector workers don’t take industrial action lightly, but right now they have no other choice and as we’ve already demonstrated in the last week they will defend their rights, conditions and pay.
“The Abbott Government has slashed 17,300 public sector jobs since taking office and now it’s going after the conditions, rights and take-home wages of those who are left.
“The Government will try and say this dispute is all about getting a bigger pay rise, but the reality is all workers face losing some of their workplace rights and thousands are actually facing a pay cut.
“Customs officers could lose up to $8,000 a year from their take-home pay because allowances are being slashed while part-timers and casuals in Centrelink and Medicare would get less money for doing the same work.
“No major private sector employer is trying to force such draconian terms on its workforce. The Abbott Government’s approach to bargaining is a million miles away from the modern, professional workplace relations most Australians would expect.
“After more than a year, the Abbott Government is still refusing to sit down with the union, like most other sensible employers do, and negotiate a fair agreement.
“Thousands of public sector workers face a cut in their current take home pay, with reduced allowances, cuts to rights and penalty rates plus increased hours, all of which will cost them far more than a 1.5% pay offer would deliver.
“Australia’s public sector workers are not asking for special treatment, they just want opportunity to negotiate fair agreements that won’t leave them worse off,” Ms Flood said.