What’s happening at Centrelink?

Amy Knox from the CPSU attended the Vintage Reds’ April meeting for a quick update on outsourcing and labour hire at Centrelink, part of the Turnbull government’s reckless privatisation of public service jobs.

Serco has been given a contract to staff Centrelink call centres, with another 1000 staff just announced. This is to address the crisis in unanswered calls to Centrelink (55 million in 2017); but rather than employ more trained, accountable public servants with job security and fair pay and conditions, there are instead casualised staff earning roughly half of what Centrelink staff get for performing the same work.

Amy reminded the meeting that only five years ago all service delivery work was done by employees of the Department of Human Services, and there were no casual employees in the department.

The CPSU is campaigning to scrap the arbitrary staffing level cap put in place by this government, which forces the privatisation of work out to consultants and contractors. This is a fight across the public service and help is needed.

Photo by Amy Knox, CPSU: Vintage Reds line up to fight privatisation of Centrelink.

More from Don’s autumn calendar

More events to keep you busy:

April 2nd to 25th: Palace Cinema, Seniors’ Film Festival.

Fri. & Sat. 13-13 April: Canberra History Bookfair, Curtin shops.

Tues. 17 April: National Film & Sound Archive, 12.30, the Beatles in “Yellow Submarine” (1968).

Wed. 18 April: Hellenic Club Comedy Night, “Straight out of Compo”.

Wed. 18 April: National Film & Sound Archive, 12.30, “Storm Boy” (1976).

Thurs. 19 April: National Film & Sound Archive, 12.30, “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952).

Fri. 20 April: National Film & Sound Archive, 12.30, “Fantasia” (1940).

27 April to 6 May: Canberra International Music Festival.

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New Vintage Reds flags


Vintage Reds are building a flag stockpile; here is a new one making its debut recently at a picnic by the lake.  It goes nicely with the “Change the Rules” T-shirt.

Photo: Penny Lockwood

Canberra Hospital cleaners win pay increase

2018-3-7_hospital_cleaners_win.jpgFor six years, while the demands at work steadily increased, wages for cleaners at the Canberra Hospital were essentially frozen.

But after a long struggle, the hospital cleaners have won a pay rise from the contractor, ISS.

ISS, a global multi-national, claims to have made a profit last year of almost half a billion Australian dollars.*


The size of the cleaners’ pay rise is under a dollar, and the union is still working to bring their wages up to the ACT public service minimum of $24 per hard-working hour. But even this small pay rise couldn’t have happened without the solidarity of cleaning staff and their union. Cleaners have been active and noisy and have run campaign after campaign to get their voices heard. The photo at right shows a “Let them eat cake” stall in November last year outside the hospital.                                                    Photos: United Voice; Bill Rowlings.


Japan Airlines picket at Narita Airport

At the end of a family holiday we reached Narita airport in Tokyo looking forward to a trip home under the care of JAL, a reputable airline. Or so we thought. But that was before we met a group of sacked JAL employees distributing leaflets in front of the departure gate.

Photo: “JAL’s unfair dismissals: Not good! Bad for air safety!”

JAL went bankrupt in 2010. But Japan’s corporate support system protected JAL and helped it to reorganise; staff were persuaded to take pay cuts, and pension payouts were halved. JAL was able to make a profit in the same year it had gone bankrupt. Despite this, on New Year’s eve, 2011, JAL sacked 165 people. A year later, its profit margin reached 17%. Of the cabin crew fired, a large majority were union members. And having fired 165 people in 2010, JAL then hired 940 new employees in 2012. 

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Penalty Rates at Southern Cross Club

Photo: Kasey Tomkins, United Voice.

Vintage Reds members joined United Voice in protesting outside the Southern Cross Club in Woden recently.

The club has managed to procure a new agreement which will cut Sunday penalty rates for some of its lowest paid workers from next year.

Canberra Times reporter quoted Lyndal Ryan, United Voice union secretary: “We think clubs that hold themselves up as virtuous and community bastions should start making a decent commitment to those workers who don’t deserve to have their wages cut.” (9 June 2017)

It was also noted that the Southern Cross Club made over a million dollars profit in the financial year 2015-16.