ACMA staff threaten work bans over pay

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ACMA staff threaten work bans over pay

National Broadband Network, spectrum work pinpointed.

Engineers and technology professionals at the Australian Communications and Media Authority have threatened to stop work on key infrastructure projects if demands for a pay rise aren't considered.

The stop work could affect projects related to the National Broadband Network, the digital dividend spectrum auction and activities involving the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists & Managers Australia (APESMA) represents approximately 20 engineers at the regulator but has threatened up to 60 staff could ultimately stop work.

The union is seeking a revised enterprise agreement including pay rises of between five and ten percent for engineers under a "generic pay structure".

Dave Smith, executive officer of the Australian Government division at APESMA, told iTnews the work bans could ultimately last weeks.

"If we think that ACMA are bargaining in good faith and show some movement, the likelihood is we'll lift those bans as soon as possible," he said.

"If they don't respond, the bans will stay in place so they could be there for a matter of weeks which obviously will have an impact on the schedule of a couple of those projects."

An ACMA spokesman said the regulator would respond imminently on an offer made on Monday by the Community and Public Sector Union.

A spokesman for communications minister Stephen Conroy declined to comment on the negotiations.

The ban threats follow months of negotiations for a revised enterprise agreement.

A proposed revision put forward to staff by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in July outlined pay increases of between two and four percent, but was rejected by 59 percent of staff eligible to vote.

"If ACMA wants to be competitive for spectrum engineers, they need to provide a premium," Smith said.

Smith rejected arguments by the ACMA bargaining team that a revised agreement would reduce staff conditions to align with the public service bargaining framework.

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