The Bureau of Meteorology has put a new pay offer to employees, the day after staff at the agency were stopped from doing live crosses, and controls were put on social media posts, after union members used the official platforms to broadcast details of their pay dispute.
Twitter posts on the bureau's Victorian, South Australian and West Australian accounts on Wednesday used the hashtags "#5yearpayfreeze #SupportUs #BOMonSTRIKE" as well as linking to a petition to support the workers in the long running workplace fight.
On Thursday a new offer was made to staff, but details of what it includes are scant.
"The Bureau of Meteorology has today [Thursday] put to its staff a new enterprise agreement for consideration, ahead of a formal vote commencing on June 22. The proposed agreement provides a substantially front-loaded pay increase, protects core conditions, is financially sustainable and complies with the government's workplace bargaining policy," a spokesman said.
Before the offer, staff were told "additional quality control" was needed before forecasts were transmitted, and social media posts must all be reviewed by an administrator, the Community and Public Sector Union said.
The union also claims that live radio crosses have been stopped in some areas because staff notified their managers they would be reading a statement about the protracted negotiations.
The union has labelled the action from the bureau as heavy-handed. CPSU deputy secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said five years without a payrise was hurting staff.
“The public deserve to know why the hardworking employees of the bureau – the people who bring them vital weather information every day – have been forced to endure a wage freeze for nearly five years, simply because they refuse to sacrifice working conditions,” she said.
“After three votes that overwhelmingly rejected management’s sub-standard offers and a refusal by management to take part in a conciliation process through the Fair Work Commission, our members have been left with no choice but to seek public support to resolve this protracted industrial dispute.”
The agency did not confirm what restrictions had been placed on social media posts, but said it respected the right of union members to take protected industrial action.
"The bureau has a responsibility to ensure that its products and services, including its forecasts and warnings, are not compromised. The bureau is putting various measures in place to meet that responsibility and to maintain the standard of its products and services," the spokesman said.
Live radio crosses were mainly done for the ABC, and as the union messages contravened ABC editorial policy, "a list of priority live crosses in each state and territory" had been developed the spokesman said.
The previous agreement at the agency with about 1600 staff expired in June 2014, with staff taking part in rolling strikes since November last year, followed by more industrial action in February and March.
The union is set to report back to the Fair Work Commission on the progress of negotiations on June 12.