Campaigning is gearing-up as thousands of Australian Border Force officials prepare to vote on a controversial wage offer this month.
Unions are cranking up the rhetoric as they work for a no-vote that would prolong the industrial unrest that has dogged the ABF and parent department Immigration and Border Protection in recent months.
Other big departments are either voting or moving toward ballots in what is set to be a critical few weeks with up to 70,000 workers set to have their say in the Abbott government's long-running pay dispute with its public servants.
Electronic polling booths at the Department of Human Services crashed under sheer weight of numbers of public servants logging on to vote on its wage deal on Friday morning after a feverish bout of campaigning at the 34,000-strong department.
The Tax Office wants its 18,000 public servants to vote as soon as possible on a proposed wage deal worth 1.5 per cent a year, but unions have gone to the Fair Work Commission to delay the poll arguing the ATO has not provided enough information to allow an informed choice for its workers.
At Immigration, the main workplace union the CPSU unleashed a broadside this week at the wage proposal for new department integrating the old Customs and Immigration agencies.
With voting due to begin on September 15, the union sent a bulletin to its members saying DIBP's offer, of slightly more than 1.1 per cent per year, is unacceptable, that the proposed agreement strips rights and entitlements and the department's public servants should vote "No".
In a message sent to staff, Departmental Secretary Michael Pezzullo said they offered "the most benefit to the most employees in a challenging environment with significant reform and integration, increasing operational demands and budgetary constraints."
A spokeswoman said on Friday that information sessions would be held before the vote and that the department's perspective on the offer was available on the DIBP intranet.
But it is the loss of extra payments and penalties by former Customs officers transferring to the ABF that is causing the most bitterness in the ranks, according to the CPSU bulletin which accused the department's senior managers of peddling "myths" to its workforce.
"Cuts to a range of allowances which will leave many employees in Border Force and the Department up to $8000 short with some employees is remote areas up to $20,000 behind, the union bulletin states.
"Hours of work will increase for former ACBPS employees by 2.04 per cent, 9 minutes a day, every day, every week, every month.
"That is an extra week worked every year."
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As the battle for hearts and minds intensified at DHS this week, workers were blitzed by a "Get the Facts" campaign from their bosses with the central message that 1.5 per cent was better than 0.00 per cent.
In its response, the CPSU is using the image of public service minister Eric Abetz who the union believes is one of its best assets as it works for the large no-vote it needs to maintain the momentum for its campaign against the Abbott government's public sector wage policies.
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