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80 ABS workers made redundant

Date

Hamish Boland-Rudder

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has shed 80 employees in a fresh round of cuts for the bureaucracy, and has not ruled out further redundancies.

But the cuts have prompted fresh speculation from ACT senator Gary Humphries about cuts to the bureaucracy, while the public service union accused the senator of using incorrect information about remaining ABS employees as ammunition in a "Liberal party preselection squabble".

The ABS confirmed on Friday that a preliminary figure of 126 surplus employees from its Interviewer workforce had been identified, and that 80 Interviewers had chosen to take a redundancy.

The Interviewers are responsible for collecting information for the bureau, and are spread around the country. The ABS employed a total of 624 Interviewers before the cuts, on an "ongoing irregular" basis.

The ABS said none of the people affected by the cuts were employed under the Public Service Act.

Of the remaining positions, the CPSU says it has worked out alternative arrangements with ABS management for all but three employees, with negotiations still under way.

However Senator Humphries claimed in a statement issued on Friday that 49 ABS employees were still facing the sack, breaking the federal Labor government's promise of no forced redundancies.

Senator Humphries said the job losses were revealed in a series of leaked emails, which indicated the ABS would tell the ABS interviewers they were facing the sack at the end of the month. Fairfax Media has not seen the leaked emails.

CPSU deputy secretary Rupert Evans said the number was out of date, and the union believed the final three employees would successfully negotiate an alternative.

"We’ve had extensive discussions with management and our members about alternatives to them being made compulsorily redundant," Mr Evans told Fairfax Media.

"Now [we are] down to three positions where we haven’t got an agreed resolution, and we remain hopeful of successfully resolving those ones without the need for any compulsory redundancy."

Mr Evans said the union was "unhappy" that people's jobs were being used for political motives.

“They certainly do not appreciate their already difficult situation being used as part of a – call it what it is – part of a Liberal party preselection squabble."

The ABS told Fairfax Media it could not comment on whether more jobs would be cut, as negotiations were ongoing.

"The ABS is now consulting with its interviewers and the CPSU on how best to manage excess interviewer numbers," the bureau said in a statement.

"Options being considered include interviewer requests for exercising leave options, reductions in workload and reduced available work weeks. It is hoped that this approach will minimise the need for any further redundancies."

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