Mass airport strike plan could mean delays for international travellers next week

International travellers are heading for delays at Melbourne Airport next week when hundreds of immigration and border protection employees plan to walk off the job.

Workers will take part in mass strikes at Australia’s seven international airports, starting from the Monday morning peak period with a series of rolling four-hour stoppages.

The industrial strife is the latest escalation in a simmering feud between the public sector union and the Abbott government over pay and conditions.

The Community and Public Sector Union said thousands of employees nationwide were now taking part in the wave of workplace unrest, the largest in 30 years, spreading through the federal public service.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said public sector workers at airports deserved better than the government’s “unfair and unworkable” bargaining policy, which links pay rises to productivity gains.

“Public sector workers on our borders undertake important, difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs on behalf of our community,” she said.

“They deserve better than the Abbott government’s attack on their rights, conditions and take-home pay.”

The union said thousands of public sector airport workers faced losing up to $8000 a year, while some specialised officers face even larger pay cuts.

Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Anna Gillett said the airport would work closely with the border force to minimise any disruptions to passengers on Monday.

Eric Abetz, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, said it was counterproductive for the CPSU to organise industrial action in support of its claim for a 12 per cent pay rise, which was “utterly unrealistic and would cost the jobs of 10,000 public servants”.

“The public service and the Australian people understand the difficult financial circumstances that we face as a nation and therefore the offers that are on the table are unreasonable in all the circumstances,” Senator Abetz said.

“We are in a very low inflationary environment and I’d encourage the CPSU to take a more responsible stance.”

New Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, released on Wednesday, showed an increase in the cost of living for employee households of 0.9 per cent.

Union members in the Agriculture Department, including quarantine workers, will also be participating in airport industrial action, including work stoppages, starting on Monday.

Members who have essential national security, counter-terrorism and specialist biosecurity hazard roles in the departments will be exempt from taking action on Monday, the CPSU said.

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