Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members who work for the Fair Work Ombudsman have voted in a protected action ballot to implement industrial action.
It follows Australian Public Service CPSU members voting to support industrial action at Services Australia last month.
After conducting one-hour stoppages at Services Australia, union members held a 24-hour stoppage on Monday 9 October.
According to the CPSU, 90.4 per cent of its members participated in the Fair Work Ombudsman vote.
Of these, 84.7 per cent voted to take an unlimited number of stoppages up to one hour, 77.6 per cent voted to take an unlimited number of stoppages for periods between one and 24 hours, and 76.9 per cent voted to take an unlimited number of actions in the form of including an authorised CPSU statement in their email signatures.
CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly said pay was the outstanding issue for its members.
“Every day they see the consequence of lagging salaries – in their pay packets, but also in their workplaces,” she said.
“An increased pay offer isn’t just good for APS employees who faced a decade of attacks on their wages, conditions and jobs. It is good for every agency and every department that is struggling to recruit and retain the staff they need to deliver the high-quality public services that Australians deserve.
“There is a clear and simple way forward here for the government and for the APS as a whole.”
Unions and the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) remain at an impasse following the breakdown of negotiations in late August. The APSC has offered an 11.2 per cent wage rise over three years, as well as a host of improvements to work conditions. This remains far short of the union’s claim of a 20 per cent rise.
The CPSU put the 11.2 per cent offer to its members in an informal vote and, despite 51.9 per cent of members voting to accept it, the union maintained its position on the grounds the majority wasn’t clear enough.
With Services Australia and Fair Work Commission union members voting to take action, ballots are also underway for members who are meat inspectors and on plant vets with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. A ballot for member employees of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) is planned.
“This round of bargaining is a unique opportunity for the government to bring employees from right across the APS together after a decade of attacks on public sector wages and conditions,” Ms Donnelly said.
“We have already made significant progress on a range of conditions that will improve the working lives of APS employees and open the doors of APS employment up to more and more people.”
APSC negotiator Peter Riordan has signalled his willingness to keep talking.
“While the Commonwealth remains disappointed with employee representatives’ decision to reject the Commonwealth’s current offer, the chief negotiator remains available for negotiations with unions and employee bargaining representatives if they wish to reconsider the offer,” he said in mid-October.
“In good faith, the Commonwealth will currently keep all aspects of the APS bargaining package on offer to APS employees.”