Centrelink is warning customers of disruption next week as public servants at the welfare agency prepare for days of strike action over a three-year pay dispute and the controversial "robo-debt" program.
Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support workers at the Department of Human Services will strike on six days between February 15 and February 24, but the agencies' bosses say payments will not be affected.
But the department's main workplace union, the CPSU, says public servants trying to resolve disputes caused by Centrelink's controversial "robo-debt" recovery policy will not be walking off the job.
The welfare agency has been embroiled in controversy since late 2016 over its pursuit of "debts" raised by an error-prone automated data-matching system with the federal opposition, the Greens, welfare groups and other organisations calling for the program's suspension.
Departmental spokesman Hank Jongen is urging people to stay away from Centrelink offices and off its phone lines during the strike days and turn to the agency's websites and mobile apps instead.
"This action has the potential to impact Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services across Australia," Mr Jongen said.
"If there are disruptions they will be to our telephone and face to face services on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
"We're asking customers to use the self-service options available through myGov and the Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support mobile apps."
The fresh wave of industrial action is the latest attempt from the union to try to wring a better offer from the department with workers to take micro-strikes, of 30 minutes, throughout the working day in a bid to make life as difficult as possible for their bosses.
CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood says the action is in response to the "continuing damage caused by senior management and the Turnbull Government, including through the stalled enterprise bargaining process and the Centrelink robo-debt crisis."
"The Turnbull Government has rightly been condemned over the Centrelink automated debt debacle, but the problems go far deeper in the Department of Human Services because of years of budget cuts and the Government's harsh and illogical public sector bargaining policy," the union leader said.
"There are 34,000 hardworking Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support staff who've gone more than three years without a pay rise as they've fought for a new enterprise agreement.
"Budget cuts and the 5,000 jobs that have been slashed from this agency also mean these workers are finding it more and more difficult to provide the quality services that the Australian public needs and deserves."