|Issue No 47||24 March 2000|
PM's Security Guards Walk off the Job
The Prime Minister's Australian Protective Service staff at Kirribilli House walked off the job this week for 32 hours, as a long-running pay dispute escalated.
The guards are frustrated that they have not received a pay rise since 1996 and the fact that Justice and Customs Minister Amanda Vanstone has refused to intervene and settle the dispute.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) believes the Government is failing in its obligation to properly fund the country's counter terrorist agency.
According to CPSU Deputy President Sue Mountford the recent threat to the Queen in Sydney "highlights the need to have a well resourced and motivated security force to counter internal and external terrorist threats."
The action is part of a long-term campaign of rolling stoppages which have already been held at major airports and Parliament House in Canberra. Further stoppages are planned in the lead up to Senate Estimates committee inquiries scheduled for May.
"The Queen's visit and the Sydney Olympics emphasise Australia's need for a properly funded national security force."
Who is the Protective Service?
As Australia's counter-terrorist first response group, the Australian Protective Service is a Commonwealth owned national security agency which provides security at Australian international airports and other sensitive national sites. Security services provided by the APS include bomb appraisal and explosives detection.
Staffing has dropped from 971 in 1994 to 755 in 1998. Presently, there are about 650 operational staff and 70 administration staff. Also, there has been about a 10% reduction in staff at Melbourne Airport in recent months.
At the same time there has been a reduction in the number of Senior Protective Service Officers who provide a high level of expertise in counter terrorism particularly at international airports. For example, the APS is currently abolishing all four Senior Protective Service Officer positions at Melbourne Airport.
Protective Service Officers have not received a pay rise since 1996 and are currently engaged in an industrial dispute. Protective Service Officers have been taking strike action regularly since mid December. Despite several invitations Justice and Customs Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone has refused to intervene and settle the dispute.
APS management have 'locked-out staff' on some occasions, and used inexperienced untrained private security guards who do not have firearms, the powers of arrest or detainment. Private security guards do not have training in counter terrorism.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005