Members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) in export meat processing plants across the country have implemented a series of overtime bans and rolling one-hour work stoppages, three days a week.
The Department of Agriculture has made what it says is its best offer under its present budget of a 1.5% annual pay increase, but the union is campaigning to encourage its members to refuse the below-inflation deal.
CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: “Meat inspectors and vets are angry at the Abbott government’s refusal to change its unfair bargaining policy - a policy which forces public service agencies to seek deep cuts to staff rights, conditions and take-home pay.
'No other options'
“Taking protected action, which disrupts the processing industry, is not something our members do lightly. But with the government moving to cut their rights, conditions and take-home pay, they feel like they don’t have any other options.
“Meat inspectors and vets play a crucial role in ensuring that our meat exports are of the highest quality. The industry, meat inspectors, vets and the union all want this matter resolved, but until the Abbott government modifies its unworkable and unfair bargaining policy, resolution seems highly unlikely.”
According to reports in the Australian press, the Department of Agriculture has unspecified plans in place to deal with the walkouts.
“The department has arrangements in place to continue to deliver services to our clients in the event of any industrial action being taken,” a spokesperson told the Canberra Times.