Slow wage talks push specialists to strike
Public servants at Murray Darling-Basin Authority have voted to strike over their ongoing pay and conditions battle.
In bold defiance of a “dire” warning that industrial action might prove fatal, the MDBA workers will join counterparts at copyright agency IP Australia as the latest to move for a strike.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department's 4,500 public servants are preparing to vote on a wage offer of 1.5 per cent per year with cuts to leave, health and well-being allowances.
That vote comes just days after scientists and researchers at the Australian Synchrotron voted against a 1.5 per cent deal.
The vote among members of technical union Professionals Australia at the at the MDBA goes against a warning from senior authority executive Jo Schumann, who told the Fair Work Commission last month that people might die as a result of the industrial action.
The MDBA is looking at an enterprise agreement offer for pay rises of 4.2 per cent over 3 years, which is expected to go to an all-staff ballot this month, making it unclear whether the industrial action will materialise.
But at the Ag Department, the Community and Public Sector Union is pushing members to stand against an enterprise agreement offer it says consists of “cuts, cuts and more cuts”.
Union official Leigh Hughes says the loss of conditions and entitlements stood in the way of any successful deal for Agriculture staff.
“Our members have consistently told us that keeping conditions are a priority for them, and a pay offer that is lower than projected inflation is not going to change their minds,” Mr Hughes told unions members in a bulletin this week.
“It is now more than a year since the current agreement was meant to have been replaced, and two years since the last pay rise.”
Meanwhile, 92 of the 131 workers at the Australian Synchrotron have voted to strike.
The experts work at a research station in Melbourne's suburbs where they experiment with high speed electrons, but their work could be put on hold in coming weeks.
Professionals Australia union official Dave Smith says the Federal Government should do more to back the work of the Synchrotron and staff.
“The Synchrotron is a world class research institution with staff enabling cutting edge research in medical science, defence, manufacturing, environmental technologies and food science technology,” Mr Smith told Fairfax.
“If this government is serious about science and innovation then it needs to properly support the Synchrotron and treat their world-class employees with respect and fairness.”