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Centrelink staff to strike against ‘ideological attack’ by government

6 February 2017
James Ried
The New Daily

Centrelink staff will launch two weeks of targeted industrial action over the Turnbull government’s “ideological attack” on the Department of Human Services.

The Community and Public Sector Union announced the upcoming strike action on Monday, saying it is in response to the automated debt recovery scandal, as well as job cuts and stalled negotiations over a pay rise.

CPSU spokesman Dermot Browne said the government was warned “years ago” by union members that the automated debt system was going to backfire, but pushed ahead anyway.

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Mr Browne said union members working on debt recovery complaints would be exempt from the new strike action, so as not to cause more distress to Australians impacted by the debt recovery process.

“Union members working directly right now on the robo-debt stuff, helping people navigate their way through the maze, they are going to be except from the industrial action,” he said. “What we don’t want to do is make people who are caught up in that horrible situation make their life anymore difficult.”

The industrial action will be held on February 13, 15, 17, 20, 22 and 24, with workers taking 30-minute strikes.

It coincides with calls from the Greens and Labor to establish a Senate inquiry into the controversial scheme.

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Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, whose Tasmanian electorate has a large number of welfare recipients, recently accused Centrelink of having “let down the Australian people”, and did not rule out supporting a Senate inquiry. His Tasmanian electorate has a large number of welfare recipients.