CENTRELINK and Medicare customers are being urged to defer non-urgent business and make use of self-service options today as industrial action threatens normal operations.
Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support customers may be affected by planned industrial action by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).
"Customer payments will not be affected by the industrial action, however we may have reduced numbers of staff in service centres and on the phone, and increased wait times," Mr Jongen said.
"We have put in place contingency arrangements to make sure staff are available to help people who are in financial hardship and need immediate assistance.
"However, we ask customers with non-urgent business to consider contacting the department another time to free up staff to help those who need it."
Customers with non-urgent business are encouraged to use online services or the Express Plus Apps.
"We appreciate our customers' patience during this time and want to reassure them that we are working hard to minimise disruption to the services," Mr Jongen said.
"The union's decision to proceed with the disruption of services to customers is frustrating given the department's genuine attempts to progress negotiations.
"We are concerned the union is encouraging its members to take counterproductive industrial action which will inconvenience people across Australia, including some of the most vulnerable in our community."
The department continues to bargain in good faith and develop an enterprise agreement that meets staff concerns, operational requirements and the Government's bargaining policy. Our last bargaining meeting with the CPSU was on 4 August and we have invited them to another meeting next week. Outside these formal meetings we have maintained ongoing consultation.
In contrast, the CPSU has largely maintained its original position from 2013.