Public service faces more unrest

by Nicola Middlemiss21 Oct 2015
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) secretary has warned that a pay rise for Australian Border Force (ABF) and Customs staff would result in almost 200 job cuts.

He also stated that employees and leaders in his department needed to recognise that the department was experiencing a “challenging” period due to its recent merge.

According to Fairfax Media, over 10,000 public servants rejected the department’s proposed enterprise agreement in September, which offered a pay increase of 3.4% over three years.

The offer was rejected by 91% of the workforce.

On Monday, Mike Pezzullo, the departmental head, told a Senate estimates hearing that a staff survey was due to be conducted in order to identify issues causing conflict.

He also said that any further pay increase to that already offered would result in job losses.

“The previous offer was developed with a view to keeping employee reductions to a minimum over the life of the agreement to ensure we had sufficient resources to carry
out our duties as set by government,” he reportedly said.

“To make the previous offer affordable, a reduction of 184 employees would have been required over the life of the agreement.

“The unavoidable reality is that any larger pay increases will require more employee reductions and I am keen to ensure that these are kept to an absolute minimum.”

Last month, many of the department’s employees were involved in a ten day strike over pay and conditions, causing delays at many of Australia’s airports.

“To help us identify what staff considered to be contentious issues within the proposed enterprise agreement, and to enable options to reshape various elements so the agreement is more acceptable to staff, we have conducted a staff survey,” Pezzullo said.

Pezzullo added that he was looking to develop a new deal that would benefit employees and recognise the “challenging nature of our reform and integration environment”.

Late last year, the Immigration Department and Customs Service were merged, a process which Pezzullo said was complicated and still underway.

“We are committed to building one culture and one organisation; an objective that includes continuing to consolidate and streamline all functions across the portfolio,” he said.

“These activities will be a central focus for us over the balance of the financial year and indeed beyond.”


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