People Have Been Noticing Secret Messages About A Pay Dispute In Australia’s Weather Forecasts

    The Bureau of Meteorology has put new restrictions on the broadcast of weather forecasts after staff used them to raise awareness about a pay freeze, and ongoing wage negotiations.

    Staff at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) are slipping hashtags into weather forecasts and social media posts to promote the pay dispute they are having with the weather agency.

    People began noticing the messages, such as "#BoMonStrike", "#5yearpayfreeze" and "#Supportus", appearing online and in the forecasts sent to media agencies yesterday and this morning.

    If they weren't paying attention, radio newsreaders or hosts might have accidentally read the extra information on air.

    Someone dropping some non-so-subtle messaging into our weather forecasts today...

    That's a very strange forecast from the BOM today


    Some of the messages were quite creative, including this acrostic.

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    Some were a little more blunt.

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    The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), which represents the workers, said the messages were part of protected industrial action, and included links to the union petition.

    The enterprise agreement covering BoM staff expired in June 2014, and staff at the bureau have not had a general wage rise in over four and a half years, according to the CPSU.

    Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement have been ongoing since February, but staff have rejected offers from management that the CPSU describes as sub-standard.

    A spokesperson for the bureau told BuzzFeed News that staff would vote on a new enterprise agreement on June 22, and that it would contain "a substantially front-loaded pay increase" and protect core conditions. In the meantime the company had put in "various measures" to ensure that forecasts and warnings were not compromised by the strike action.

    "The bureau respects the rights of union members to take protected industrial action," the spokesperson said. "The bureau has a responsibility to ensure that its products and services, including its forecasts and warnings, are not compromised."

    The CPSU said the response was "heavy-handed" and an "extraordinary overreaction" to the protest.

    The union's deputy secretary, Beth Vincent-Pietsch said in a statement the public deserved to know why the staff hadn't been offered a pay increase in such a long time.

    "Rather than sit down and talk about how this increasingly bitter dispute can be resolved, management have instead gone to the extraordinary lengths of attempting to gag employees from taking part in lawful industrial action," she said.

    "We need a system that brings management and employees together to deliver fair and just outcomes, rather than the current situation where the bureau has used a wage freeze to try to force employees to sacrifice important conditions."

    Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Josh Taylor at josh.taylor@buzzfeed.com.

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