The Australian Public Service is in turmoil because of the Abbott Government’s harsh budget cuts.
Industrial action is imminent within one of its largest departments, more scientists are set to go from CSIRO and 7,200 staff have been forced out of their jobs in the past year in Canberra alone.
Yesterday staff at the Department of Human Services (DHS) overwhelmingly voted to pursue industrial action in protest against the Government’s below-inflation wage offer.
“The Government is trying to force the department’s 35,000 staff to accept longer working hours and reduced conditions in return for a pay offer that will see their real wages decline over time,” said Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh.
“The decision to pursue industrial action comes after months of stonewalling from the Government when staff have tried to negotiate a fairer deal.”
At the same time as its cuts are disrupting services at DHS, the Abbott Government is also slashing CSIRO’s research staff by a further 75 people as part of its rolling redundancy program.
“These positions will be cut from research projects across the manufacturing, agriculture and digital productivity streams. The Government hacked $115 million from CSIRO’s budget in May, and around 800 staff will leave this vital research agency in the next two years,” said Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann.
They will join more than 7,200 public servants who have been made redundant in Canberra this year alone.
Senator Kate Lundy said the Abbott Government’s cuts have seen the total Commonwealth workforce shrink by 1.7 per cent across Australia, with one in 11 public servants in Canberra forced from their jobs.
“These cuts have caused the ACT’s unemployment rate to rise to 5.4 per cent in October, the highest rate in 13 years,” she said.
“The Australian Public Service simply cannot continue to operate effectively when staff are being sacked in droves and those left behind are forced to battle for their most basic workplace entitlements,” said Ms Brodtmann.
“ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja needs to take this message directly to his boss, Tony Abbott: the public service can’t cope with the chaos caused by his government’s cuts,” said Dr Leigh.