Pay Failure Undermines WA Budget - UnionsWA

Pay Failure Undermines WA Budget

UnionsWA has today commented on the release of the WA Budget and warned that the failure to improve public sector pay policy will make recruitment for needed new positions and retention harder. While the one-off electricity payment is welcome, other State Government charges to households are rising, as are other broader costs of living.

Owen Whittle, Secretary UnionsWA said:

“Rapidly rising costs of livings mean that all working people in WA are falling further behind.

“When public sector pay goes backwards, services go backwards.

“Vacancies can’t be filled; people leave their jobs skills and experience are lost.

“Rapidly rising costs of living mean that it is now urgent that the current policy be reviewed and improved.

“When the old State Wages Policy failed, the WA Government conducted a review in consultation with unions. 

“That policy was ditched and a somewhat better one adopted. 

“The existing WA State Wages Policy caps pay increases at 2.75%, while the recent ABS data for the year to March 2022 found costs of living in Perth have risen by 7.6%. 

“Over the past year public sector wages have gone backwards by almost 5%.  

“What that means for our police, teachers, health care and child protection service staff among others, is that for every $20 earned in wages that is now worth one dollar less when spent. 

“Working people tend to spend their wages locally, often by necessity to meet essentials, this means that adequate wages flow through to a stronger local economy. 

“The reverse is also true – if wages decline in real terms, then there’s less spending across the WA economy. 

“The WA Government is the largest employer in the state and the only WA employer who can arbitrarily and unilaterally fix the wages of its workforce.  

“The need for genuine bargaining arises from the size and diversity of the public sector. 

“In some areas of public service provision, overall staffing levels are critical and increase in funding to health, education and the Department of Communities is welcomed

“In other areas of public service provision or related support, new technologies, infrastructure, or other factors have an impact on productivity, service quality or workplace pressures. 

“Different Enterprise Bargaining Agreements come into force at different times and increasing costs of living are happening quickly. 

“All these factors suggest that genuine bargaining should become the norm in the public sector, not a fixing of wages at a low cap. 

“The one-off electricity payment to households is welcome, but other State Government charges to household such as water and transportation will continue to add to costs of living pressures. 

“At the end of the day, for working people, the only security they have in the face of rapidly rising prices is a wage that keeps pace with the cost of living.  

“This Budget does too little to improve wages.” 

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