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News : Centrelink, Medicare Staff Sign Petition Against Outsourcing Call Centres
Australia Jan 9, 2015 -- Thousands of Centrelink and Medicare staff have signed a petition protesting against a proposal to outsource call centre work to Telstra.
About 6,500 Department of Human Services (DHS) staff signed the petition, calling on the federal department to not proceed with the Telstra outsourcing proposal.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said the proposal posed a risk to the privacy of clients' records.
CPSU deputy national president Lisa Newman also said the proposal put public service jobs at risk and undermined services to the community.
In a letter to the DHS secretary, Ms Newman said that staff were strongly opposed to any outsourcing.
"Staff strongly feel...for reasons outlined in this letter, believe the proposal poses an unacceptably high risk to the quality services they provide and the community rely on," she said.
According to the union, the Telstra proposal would involve private contract staff providing customer services in department call centres.
"This practice was abandoned around five years ago because labour hire employees were unreliable and underqualified to meet customer service needs," Ms Newman said.
"Operational managers were also frustrated by limitations on their ability to manage performance and professional development because labour hire contract staff were not subject to the terms of the department's enterprise agreement."
But DHS general manager Hank Jongen told 666 ABC Canberra in September that Telstra staff would mostly handle high-volume, routine calls and specialised Centrelink staff would continue to manage more complicated inquiries.
DHS said it had been considering only a pilot scheme and had not made a final decision.
Last month Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support staff read messages of protest to call centre customers during the first round of industrial action.
Earlier in 2014 the department offered staff a new employment agreement, which would remove their super guarantee of 15.4 per cent and require them to work an extra six minutes per day in exchange for a pay rise of 0.75 per cent per annum.
Months of negotiations between DHS and the CPSU failed to yield a solution and in November 15,000 members voted to take protected industrial action.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Telstra Incorporated is a global provider of advanced communications services to multinational corporations.
About Community and Public Sector Union:
The Community and Public Sector Union (more commonly known as the CPSU) is a national trade union in Australia.
Published: Monday, January 12, 2015