On a day when the Fair Work Commission awarded a 5.2% wage rise for federal minimum wage workers, workplace delegates from public sector unions from across the education, police, health and others public sectors met at Parliament House having invited relevant Ministers to meet with them to negotiate over pay and scrap the 2.75% pay cap. This is the start of an escalation of action for public sector workers who are fed-up negotiating with departmental personnel who are not empowered to make decisions.
Owen Whittle Secretary, UnionsWA, said:
“The inadequacy of the 2.75% pay cap for our WA public sector workforce has been laid bare by today's Fair Work Commission welcome decision on a federal minimum wage rise of 5.2%.
"An independent commission has awarded almost double the pay rise imposed by the WA Government when inflation is running higher in WA than elsewhere in Australia.
"Today is also an escalation of our dispute with the WA Government, which will continue until there is some sensible solution to a State Wages Policy, a policy that is clearly inadequate in the face of rising costs-of-living.
“Union delegates are tired of negotiating without the political decision makers in the room who force a real pay cut for their own public sector workforce.
“As it stands, bargaining is a waste of time for elected union representatives and it’s a waste of time for the workers on the other side of the bargaining table who are forced to front their Ministers' disastrous policy.
“When public sector wages go backwards, public services go backwards as people start to look for decent pay elsewhere leading to a loss of skills and experience in vital services.
“Ensuring services are delivered to our community, attracting, and retaining experienced and skilled staff – these are the responsibilities of the relevant Ministers.
“We are calling for them to negotiate directly with their workforce and then take the outcomes of those negotiations to the Cabinet table for decisions.
“A once-nimble WA Government has proven sluggish in responding to the new economic realities.
“Last year the Government showed some leadership in ditching the failed State Wages Cap which limited increases to $1,000 a year.
“The new cap, in effect at 2.75%, was somewhat more realistic but rapidly rising inflation means there is a now a need further urgent change.
“Importantly, while the old policy cap has been dumped in practice it is in place for many public sector workers.
“Workers in the public sector today are still on a legacy $1,000 pay increase this year while costs of living in Perth, according to the ABS, have risen by 7.6%.
“To put that in a real-world context, for those on salaries on or below $13,158 per year, then the $1,000 increase matches a 7.6% increase in costs of living.
“In other words, every public sector worker in Perth is going backwards, even the $400 electricity rebate doesn’t change that by much.
“The NSW Liberal Government has recently raised its cap to 3% this year and 3.5% next year and it’s time for the WA Government to move as well.”