Bureau staff act on bleak pay forecast

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser

Albany Bureau of Meteorology staff are taking part in nationwide industrial action as part of a long-running dispute over their enterprise bargaining agreement.

The move comes after cost-cutting measures at regional weather stations, including the redeployment of 30 staff — including the planned loss of two staff at Albany’s weather station, which will be automated within five years.

Community and Public Sector Union deputy secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said the bureau’s staff were angry because they had not received a pay rise for more than four years.

“BoM management are targeting some of its harshest cuts at staff working shifts and in remote locations, so this dispute is especially important to communities like Albany that are so reliant on local BOM staff during severe weather events,” she said.

Under the action, phones will go unanswered unless the calls relate to current or forecast severe weather. The union has also issued a warning that there could be further action in the future.

“BoM staff are as determined as ever to get a fair agreement, whatever it takes,” Ms Vincent-Pietsch said. “This industrial action is targeted to impact most on management, rather than the Albany community.”

A Bureau of Meteorology spokesman said the community would continue to receive timely forecasts and warnings from the bureau throughout the action.

“Bureau management and bargaining representatives are continuing to work together to progress the enterprise agreement,” he said. Albany’s BoM office is staffed by manager Jason Balhorn, who worked in the office for 17 years, and duty officer Jenny Feast, who has spent the past three years in Albany but more than seven years with the bureau.

BoM WA regional director Mike Bergin said Mr Balhorn and Ms Feast would be “redeployed” when the Albany office became automated.

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