The Department of Foreign Affairs faces legal action over its dumping of young people hired by the AusAID graduate program then sacked before they could start their careers.
The public sector union, the CPSU, says it is taking the department to the Fair Work Commission in a bid to force the department to give the graduates jobs.
The applicants for the AusAID program had been offered graduate positions with the agency but were then told by the department not to show up. The department will go ahead with its own graduate program as usual next year.
CPSU deputy secretary Rupert Evans said the Fair Work Commission action was aimed at trying to persuade the department to find work for the graduates, many of whom rejected other job offers so they could work at AusAID.
"We are going to the Fair Work Commission to seek its assistance in persuading the department to look at alternative employment options for those affected staff," he said.
"We believe there are options that exist and we are encouraging the department to explore them so that these people who were so keen to go into public service might be able to find a job elsewhere."
AusAID staff still face a wait of several months before they know if they have a job.