Services Australia workers are set to strike for 24 hours today, but Centrelink recipients have been assured there will be no impact to their payments.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) notified the agency that members would stop work on Monday, October 9, in protest over the government's pay rise offer.
The offer currently stands at 11.2 per cent over three years - 4 per cent in the first year, 3.8 per cent in the second year, and 3.4 per cent in the third year - but a union poll of 15,000 members found only a small majority of staff backed the current offer.
“There is strong support for the conditions package that has been negotiated, including the industry-leading working-from-home rights, increases to paid parental leave, the reintroduction of job-security provisions and increased casual-loading rates,” CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly said.
“But, in an environment where every [public service] worker is feeling extreme cost-of-living pressures, the current pay offer just doesn’t cut it. The Government can and should do better, and that means making an offer that has clear support from employees.”
The 24-hour strike follows a series of work bans and a one-hour stop-work action in August.
It comes as Centrelink wait times skyrocket, increasing from 14 minutes in 2021-22 to 20 minutes this financial year, according to government figures.
How will the strike affect Aussies on Centrelink?
Aussies on Centrelink would not see their payments affected today, Services Australia general manager Hank Jongen said.
“Anyone expecting payments on Monday or Tuesday will receive them as usual, and those who need to report their income will be able to do so," Jongen said.
Services Australia is encouraging Centrelink and Medicare customers to do what they can online and to only visit a service centre if absolutely necessary.
"We will have less staff and if you can delay visiting or calling us until Tuesday or later in the week, please do," Jongen said
“Available staff will be prioritising support to those who need immediate assistance, including people in crisis or experiencing financial hardship."
Services Australia’s online and self-service facilities will not be affected by the strike and will continue to be available 24/7.
Jongen said Services Australia respected that “lawful industrial action” was part of the bargaining process and it appreciated its customers' patience.