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Federal police union pave way for looming strike

The Australian Federal Police Association has filed an application with the Fair Work Commission for officers to walk off the job over a pay dispute.


The Australian Federal Police (AFP) emblem is seen outside the Australian Federal Polica (AFP) Headquarters in Canberra. Image AAP

Federal police officers could be set to walk off the job over pay and working conditions.


The Australian Federal Police Association filed documents with the Fair Work Commission on Friday applying for a protected action ballot.


The ballot would be the first step towards association members walking off the job.


Should a strike go ahead, it would be the first time that federal police members have taken part in industrial action.


Association president Alex Caruana said the possible strike was the only way to resolve the issue.


"Our application has been lodged, and we'll wait for the Australian Federal Police to respond and the Fair Work Commission to make their decision," he said.


"As the bargaining framework sits today, we can't achieve (the best enterprise agreement possible) and would be lumped with an enterprise agreement unfit for an operational law enforcement agency."


More than 75 per cent of the association's 1800 members voted in favour of making the application to the workplace watchdog.


The police union said 90 per cent of its members would reject an 11.2 per cent pay rise for staff over three years.


Such a pay rise was similar to an increase offered to other public servants.


Mr Caruana said the possible strike was needed due to the "restrictiveness" of the public sector workplace policy.


"AFP members are the lowest base-paid police officers in the country," he said,


"These are the same police and protective service officers protecting politicians, guarding critical infrastructure such as Parliament House and Pine Gap, and protecting children from the dangers of child exploitation.


"We are stuck with a bargaining policy that won't allow the AFPA to bargain with the AFP to provide pay rises that are competitive with private enterprise and other law enforcement agencies."


An AFP spokeswoman said in a statement negotiations had been under way with the police association since September 2023 and had yet to present an offer to the workforce.


"The AFP will continue bargaining with its workforce, with the Australian government public sector workplace relations policy outlining what can and cannot be offered as part of enterprise agreements," the spokeswoman said.


"The AFP continues to work constructively with the AFPA on avenues they are seeking, including through the Fair Work Commission and the requirements of the fair work act."


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