Turnbull government MPs and senators could be facing a revolt from within their own offices against their hardline public sector industrial relations stance.
Anger among some Coalition staffers is rising as about 1700 parliamentary staffers prepare to vote next week on a new wages and conditions deal developed under the government's controversial public sector bargaining framework.
But the Liberal adviser leading the push for a yes vote says he is "reasonably confident" the proposed agreement will be accepted.
The ballot begins on Monday as more than 1000 staffers and their politician bosses descend on Canberra for the last parliamentary sitting of the year, with tensions between rival groups of Liberal and National Party workers threatening to erupt publicly.
Some government staffers are unhappy enough to vote against their own government's policy and have begun to organise after being offered a new deal that offers only 1.3 per cent pay rises and fails to address long-standing resentments over pay increments in political offices.
Staffers are also seething over the ban on back pay, enforced across the Australian Public Service, after a failure to offer up an agreement for nearly 18 months after the previous deal expired.
Coalition advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity, have told Fairfax they are unhappy not only with the substance of the deal but with being pressured to accept.
With Coalition staff vastly outnumbering any other group among about 1700 employees covered by the agreement, it is uncertain if those organising for a no vote will be able to tip the balance.
One source close to the talks said they believed there were enough "true believers" among government staffers to get the agreement over the line, sparing the Coalition considerable political embarrassment.
But with Greens and Labor negotiators urging their colleagues to vote no when the ballot opens on Monday, the votes of staffers in the offices of crossbench senators could be crucial.
Crossbench staffing arrangements themselves have emerged as a sore point after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in the wake of July's election, allowed independent and small party senators to each hire seven staffers, a big increase from the usual four employees for a backbench senator.
The deal sees the Nick Xenophon team and One Nation with 28 staffers each with an extra 21 in the offices of Jacqui Lambie, Derryn Hinch and David Leyonhjelm, who are set to be heavily lobbied by the opposing yes and no vote forces.
Josh Manuatu, adviser to Tasmanian senator and industrial relations hardliner Eric Abetz, is leading the committee of government staffers handling the proposal.
"We're certainly hopeful and the group that has been bargaining more or less united on recommending to staff that they should support it," Mr Manuatu said on Tuesday.
"Most of the people I've spoken to, and I've been holding consultations and discussions with staff over the past couple of days, have been pretty positive so there's a fair bit of support for the offer that's on the table.
"So everyone I've spoken to is reasonably comfortable."
Greens staffer Sam Drummond says the extra resources granted to the crossbench have made many staffers suspicious of government claims that the 2 per cent pay rise is all it can afford.
"We know there's money here somewhere because they have just been given extra staff so why isn't that money going to benefit the staff that already exists," Mr Drummond told Fairfax.
"Two per cent, with no back pay, is really not acceptable."