Staff in the Department of Human Services including Centrelink workers are planning six days of rolling strikes over a stalled enterprise bargaining process and the auto-debt recovery program, according to the Community and Public Sector Union.
The union said Centrelink, Medicare and child support workers would strike and take other forms of industrial action at various times and various locations starting on 13 February.
However, the CPSU said staff providing critical services, including “those dealing with customers unfairly targeted by the flawed automated debt recovery”, would not participate.
CPSU deputy national president Lisa Newman told Pro Bono News the auto-debt recovery program was a “debacle” and a symptom of years of budget cuts and staff reductions.
“It’s important to emphasise that this industrial action is targeted at the Turnbull government and its ideological attacks on DHS, along with the senior management that’s blindly followed that agenda,” Newman said.
“Our members are doing this because they care about the quality of the services they provide, which is why workers dealing with sensitive clients such as those being dragged through the robo-debt crisis will not be taking industrial action.
Last week lunchtime rallies across three states called on the federal government to stop its Centrelink auto-debt recovery program.
In a statement from welfare peak body ACOSS, CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “This error-riddled auto debt-recovery program must be stopped without further delay.
“The tweaks announced by the minister for human services, Alan Tudge, do not address the fundamental problems and serious concerns expressed by us and a broad range of stakeholders.”