Protected-Industrial-Action-FAQs2024-04-11T13:44:52+10:00
What is protected industrial action?2024-02-22T16:31:47+11:00

Protected industrial action refers to lawful industrial action taken by employees and their union representatives during negotiations for a new enterprise agreement or when disputes arise in the workplace. Protected industrial actions can include strikes, stoppages of work, bans on performing certain tasks, and other actions aimed at putting pressure on employers to address employees’ concerns during bargaining. 

It is conducted in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and must comply with specific requirements to be considered lawful. As the industrial action is protected, the employer cannot take adverse action against any employee for taking part in it.  

The AFPA has taken all the necessary steps to prepare for taking protected industrial action, but now we need you 

To take protected industrial action, 50% of the employees we ballot need to take part in the vote, and more than 50% of the votes need to be a yes. It is vital that you take part and that you encourage all of your colleagues to take part too.

Why are we taking protected industrial action?2024-02-22T16:33:31+11:00

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has limited the pay rise that you can receive to be capped at 11.2% in total – without any allowances or changes to safety nets or broadbanding 

You are being treated as if you are the same as any public servant. This is unacceptable and frankly insulting. It does not recognise the value of the work that you do and will not raise AFP wages above where they are at present – the lowest in the country. The government thinks it can continue to undervalue the work you do and take for granted your commitment to your job to get it done.  

It took the AFPA to force the AFP to commence bargaining for the new EA in September 2023 by issuing a notice pursuant to s173(2A) of the Fair Work Act 2009. Despite the AFPA genuinely trying to reach an agreement with the AFP, those negotiations stalled at the end of October when the Commissioner of Police cancelled any further meetings scheduled for 2023. Meetings held this year have merely addressed APS Common Conditions, and the AFPA is yet to be provided with any draft conditions other than loosely worded intentions. 

The AFPA then undertook due diligence by surveying its membership, where over 75% of respondents made their intent clear when asked if they would undertake industrial action. It was an overwhelming YES. 

It is because of this, and the lack of willingness by the government to listen to our concerns, that we are again being forced to act, this time by making a Protected Action Ballot Order, to allow members to take protected industrial action to support and advance the log of claims for the new EA. 

This does not mean that we will cease bargaining on your behalf – we are as committed to the bargaining process as we have been from the start. It does mean that we will have an avenue to show the government directly that we are ready and willing to fight for the pay and conditions you deserve. 

Who can participate in protected industrial action?2024-02-22T16:35:18+11:00

If you are an AFPA member (or nominated the AFPA as your bargaining representative) and were eligible to vote in the protected action ballot (regardless of whether you voted yes to particular actions or not), you have the right to participate in any or all of the listed protected actions.  

Protected industrial action provides employees with legal safeguards, such as immunity from civil liability for participating in the action and protection against dismissal solely for engaging in industrial action.  

What it means for you?2024-02-22T16:36:36+11:00

You will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not you are willing to take part in protected industrial action. You will receive a ballot with a number of potential actions included.  

The number of questions reflects the fact that the AFP is a diverse workplace, and a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work. Your ability to generate the biggest impact possible through industrial action will look different depending on your area of work. Our broad list of industrial actions recognises this and makes sure that every single one of your voices will have an opportunity to be heard.  

You do not have to take part in all of the listed actions, but you will have the opportunity to make an impact regardless of where you work. We will guide you in what actions you can take, including what wording can be used in messages as part of the protected industrial action.

Is protected industrial action legal?2024-02-22T16:39:07+11:00

The simple answer is yes. The AFPA has met the restrictions and requirements under the Fair Work Act 2009 in order to create the opportunity for members to undertake protected industrial action. The AFP is prohibited from taking adverse action against you because you take part in, or propose to take part in, any form of protected industrial action. 

Please take detailed notes of anything you consider adverse action.  

When you take part in protected industrial action, you simply need to stick to the rules and only engage in action as described in the Order from the Fair Work Commission. This is important – if you undertake action that has not been approved by the Fair Work Commission, the industrial action may be deemed to be unprotected, and you may be subject to legal action, disciplinary action or dismissal. 

How long can industrial action last?2024-02-22T16:42:34+11:00

The AFPA and its members have up to 30 days to commence each form of protected industrial action that was approved by the Fair Work Commission (or apply to have the time period extended).  Once each action has commenced, there is no limit to how many times it can be notified or how long each period of industrial action can last, as long as it is a protected action and properly notified. 

Can I lose my job?2024-02-22T16:43:15+11:00

No, your employment is protected while taking the listed protected industrial actions. The FWC has approved the actions for you to further your claims with respect to a proposed Enterprise Agreement.

Do I have to tell management if I am going to take protected industrial action?2024-02-22T16:44:09+11:00

Although there is no requirement to notify your employer that you are engaging in protected industrial action on the day (as they will already have been notified by the AFPA), it is advisable to do so. Union members who have previously taken action reported it was easier to take protected industrial action once their employer knew. It also assists with job planning, putting the obligation back on the employer to manage the effects of the protected industrial action. 

If you are asked directly whether you have taken industrial action or are presently imposing a ban, you should answer the question. 

Should I participate if I am dealing with an emergency?2024-02-22T16:44:55+11:00

The AFPA has purposely chosen actions that still allow our members to perform their important essential roles (as the actions are nearly all partial work bans). The actions are designed to send a loud message to the government that you will not accept their disrespectful offer.  

They also have the effect of informing the public about the wages and conditions you endure in service of the community. Members are advised to use their professional judgment. If you are working on emergency procedures, please do not stop work if it is going to endanger the immediate health or lives of people. If you have any questions, please contact your union delegate or contact the AFPA office.

Will employees’ pay be deducted for taking part in industrial action?2024-02-22T16:45:50+11:00

The protected industrial action proposed is not for a complete ban on working. That being said, there is provision in the Fair Work Act 2009 for the AFP to reduce wages by a specified proportion if it gives written notice to both the AFPA and the member concernedGiven the nature of the actions proposed, we do not envisage this occurring. 

Do I have to take part in industrial action because I voted?2024-02-22T16:46:29+11:00

No, you can choose to take part in none, some, or all of the actions.  

The AFPA urge you to take part in all the protected actions that you can. Improvements to wages and conditions only happen when members stand together and fight hard for their claims. We urge you to resist accepting below-par terms and conditions of employment.

I am a team leader/OIC/coordinator/manager. I have been notified that some of my direct/indirect subordinates plan to take part in protected industrial action. Do I need to keep a record of which of my staff plan to do so?2024-03-04T09:43:11+11:00

No, there is a specific part of the FWC order prohibiting such record-taking. Please contact the AFPA as soon as possible if you are asked to keep records of these situations.

Will any of the team members reporting directly/indirectly to me be striking/marching/picketing, stopping work during shift, or refusing to come into work?2024-03-04T09:44:39+11:00

No, only very specific forms of protected industrial action were applied for and approved by the Fair Work Commission. None of the above forms of action were included in our application, and not all forms of industrial action applied for will ultimately be considered to be used.

Are team leaders and above allowed to participate in the same industrial action as team members are?2024-03-04T09:46:17+11:00

Generally speaking yes, unless there is a clear reason for team leaders not to participate in that specific action. The AFPA will determine whether there are any potential considerations for team leaders in advance of any action being undertaken.

Can Professional Standards (PRS) punish or sanction me because of my participation in protected industrial action?2024-03-04T09:47:50+11:00

No, as the industrial action would be protected under the Fair Work Act, providing that the industrial action undertaken was as per the Fair Work Commission’s Order. The AFP would be notified by the AFPA in advance of any protected industrial action commencing.

Should a member undertake action outside that permitted by the Order, then any breaches of AFP policies or Commonwealth legislation would continue to fall within PRS’ remit to impose penalties and sanctions.

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