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Public service dispute

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Public Service Dispute 15 JANUARY 1985

The Federal Opposition today urged the Government to honour its commitment to withdraw wages and stand down employees if public service unions go ahead with a campaign of industrial action.

Shadow Minister responsible for the Public Service, David Connolly, said that while there was no guarantee that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission would rule in favour of such a decision, it was the only option available to the Government since repealing

the former Coalition Government's legislation.

"The Fraser Government introduced amendments to the Public Service Act and other acts covering public sector employees and the CommonwealtH Employees (Employment Provisions) Act which gave the government direct power to withdraw wages and stand down workers.

"This was necessary after the 1980 New South Wales Supreme Court decision which found that the common law right of employers to implement the no work as directed- no pay principle no longer applied in the area ol Commonwealth employment.

"The Public Service Board supported this legislation and warned the current Government from repealing it, claiming that it had proved effective both as a deterrent and in resolving disputes."

Mr Connolly said the Minister for Industrial Relations had claimed that repealing the legislation 'would be an important step in improving industrial relations in the public sector.'

"This contrasts sharply with yesterday's union decision to conduct the largest campaign of industrial action ever mounted in the Federal public service," Mr Connolly said.

"This follows the failure of the Government to solve many long running disputes in the public service such as the postal disruptions in New South Wales and the nationwide work bans on immigration services which have been continuing for some six months."

Mr Connolly said it was ridiculous for public service unions to claim that their action was directed against the Government and not the general public.

"While ttjthe public has been spared from action which cuts social securit; payments;at this stage of the campaign, all work bans have a direct and indirect effect on the public.

"It is the community and the taxpayer which bears the cost of productivity and time lost, as well as action aimed at directly costing the Government more.

"Such examples were evident in industrial actions last November where unemployment benefits were paid without checking eligibility and resulting in excess payouts due to a dispute within the Department of Social Security. "

Mr Connolly said this had also extended to threats of failing to pay social security benefits.

Contact; Toni Wren (02) 239 3198/9