Centrelink staff protest
ABOUT 100 Coffs Harbour Centrelink staff walked off the job on Thursday to protest against the certified agreement offered by management for the next three years.
"We have been involved in entreprise bargaining with Centrelink and haven't been able to get fair and guaranteed conditions," Paul Ingwersen of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said.
The union is seeking a fully guaranteed 12.5 per cent wage increase over three years, but Mr Ingwersen says this is being offered with 'strings attached'.
While staff will retain their 20 days personal leave ? which includes sick leave, carer's leave, and emergency leave ? 1.5 per cent of the wage increase will only come through if they reduce the number of sick leave they actually take by an average of one day per worker per year.
But Centrelink general manager Hank Jongen said many compromises had already been made during negotiations and this was one issue they would not budge on, because unplanned leave was significantly higher than the Australian Public Service average.
"We've set achievable targets to redue our unplanned leave and it's reasonable to link a small part of the pay increases to this as it's an area where we need to significantly improve our performance," he said.
He added no customers had been disadvantaged by the industrial action and thanked staff who had worked to ensure minimal disruption to services.
Centrelink staff from 25 call centres joined in the protest.