The battle over 9 minutes

Public servants have been asked to work an extra 9 minutes a day – and they’re not happy.

Union warns the extra minutes might spark industrial action by thousands of public servants, according to reports in Fairfax media.

Employers asking public servants to knock off at 5pm rather than 4.51pm and a mooted freeze on pay rises have caused unhappiness for workers at the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

According to reports in Fairfax, unions have revealed that ATO and Defence Department are considering the idea of longer working hours in consultations with their staff in the lead-up to official bargaining on agreements.

It is believed that Geoscience Australia has already brought up the prospect of longer hours during its bargaining with its staff.

An extra nine minutes daily would take the average working week at the ATO from 36 hours and 45 minutes to 37.5 hours. The change would add another three hours at work each month or 39 hours a year.

The Australian Services Union, representing the ATO staff, have argued that the extra nine minutes would add up to taking away a week of annual leave.

“It’s like asking people to work another five and a third days a year,” ASU tax branch secretary Jeff Lapidos said.

The ATO is expected to begin bargaining with their staff on Monday and Mr Lapidos has warned that a tough initial offer might result in taking industrial action.

“We’re strongly opposed to the lengthening of the working day. I’m expecting we’ll take industrial action but that’s my prediction, we’ve made no decision,” Mr Lapidos said.

“Any industrial action will be designed to hurt the commissioner (Chris Jordan) and the government as much as we can.”

A Tax Office spokeswoman told Fairfax media; the agency would negotiate in good faith with the ASU, Community and Public Sector Union and individual employee representatives.

“We will be discussing a range of employment conditions as part of that process, but as part of our commitment to good faith bargaining we will not be publicly commenting on the negotiations prior to bargaining discussions,” the ATO spokeswoman said.

“We are keeping our staff regularly informed and will continue to update them through the bargaining process.”

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