Industrial action off again as Ag dept docks strikers

By Stephen Easton

April 6, 2016

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is getting tough on union members among its airport-based staff, who have been taking industrial action in co-ordination with Australian Border Force officers.

The Community and Public Sector Union says DAWR is “moving to stand down workers and dock all pay for applying limited work bans” and has advised its quarantine and biosecurity members to suspend action while it assesses the situation further.

The week began with the Fair Work Commission suspending legal protection for industrial action taken by their ABF comrades, as the commission considers an application for a three-month suspension from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on national security grounds.

According to a statement from the CPSU:

“The Agriculture Department is falsely claiming the industrial action has the potential to compromise quarantine and biosecurity at airports, despite the fact the bans involve screening more incoming passengers than normal and intercepting more prohibited items.”

National secretary Nadine Flood linked the preference for strong-arm tactics over negotiation to the legal action launched by DIBP, which it will defend tomorrow morning at the FWC in Melbourne:

“These two actions show the extent to which management in both of these agencies will stretch the bounds of credibility rather than deal fairly in what is rapidly becoming a bigger and uglier dispute.”

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