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Home News DHS and Australia’s largest union vote — what happens now?
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PEOPLEHank Jongen, Nadine Flood
DEPARTMENTSDepartment of Human Services, Centrelink, Australian Electoral Commission, Medicare
TAGS Australia, Community and Public Sector Union, Department of Human Services, enterprise bargaining, Fair Work Australia, Fair Work Commission, unions, industrial action
Staff at the Department of Human Services have the green light to vote on whether to take industrial action and what form it might take. The Mandarin explains the scenarios.
The almost 15,000 Department of Human Services staff members who belong to the Community and Public Sector Union now have until November 17 to vote on whether to take industrial action.
The Fair Work Commission gave the go-ahead to the protected action ballot in a hearing yesterday, opening a 25-working-day window to complete the process. Whatever the results, a majority of DHS members must take part in the vote for them to be valid.
Only union members can vote or take part in protected industrial action, and only actions that get a “yes” from the majority are allowed. The nine yes-or-no questions ask if CPSU members want to protest through bans or limitations on adhering to dress standards, answering phones, responding to voicemails or emails or working outside normal hours. Subsequent questions float options for bans or restrictions on other kinds of work, and members might also agree to take breaks earlier or later than scheduled.
Other actions could include members reading a statement from the CPSU to clients or customers, or providing one in written letters, emails, auto-reply messages or voicemails — allowing the union to take its message to the public via communication systems managed by service providers like Medicare or Centrelink.
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The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.
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