Public Pay Protest Perth Town Hall - UnionsWA

Public Pay Protest Perth Town Hall

As a part of a massed meeting of public sector union members at Perth Town Hall, UnionsWA has today released new figures that track the decline in real and comparative terms of public sector pay under the WA Government since 2017. Related staff shortages are impacting the quality of health, education and other services as well as unsafe workloads.

Owen Whittle, Secretary UnionsWA said:

“This huge gathering is evidence that if there is not a proper resolution to public sector pay, unions will continue to campaign and lead the public sector workforce in further action.

“Four or more years of the failed State Wage Policy has imposed on most of the public sector workforce pay that has gone backwards in real terms compared with costs of living and compared with others across the broader workforce.

“Over those 4 years since 2017 the WA Industrial Commission has granted minimum wage and award workers increases, cumulatively, of 11.8%.

“Again, over that same period, inflation has risen by 7%

“Yet for a public sector worker on a medium or typical wage in 2017 over those years, the State Wages Policy has provided only 4.6% wage increases.

“That’s backwards and backwards for those we rely on to keep us safe during the pandemic.

“As the largest employer in WA, capping wages at such low levels also affects the broader economy.

“For the lowest paid in the public sector workforce, rising costs for housing and other essentials leaves them behind.

“Wages are fixed by our employer - the government - in a way that no other working people have to endure.

“We’re seeing the impact of this failed wages policy with recruitment difficulties for needed roles in the public sector – that means poorer education for our school kids, less care for patients in our hospitals and increased workloads in other areas of essential public services such as child protection.

“The government has made the right first step by dumping the wages policy.

“The review of that policy is currently underway and being led by Minister Dawson.

“Public sector unions are calling for a minimum 4% per annum for the next two years or a flat $2,500, whichever is greater.
”A positive outcome now needs to be delivered.

“Unions cannot and will not rule out industrial action to secure pay rises.”

Further information

Decisions for the WA Minimum Wage and related Awards pay increases by the WA Industrial Relations Commission are presented below, including the cumulative percentage increases from 2017 to 2021.


WA State Wage Case Outcome

Cumulative % Increase since 2017
















Source: 2021 State Wage Case & Previous State Wage Cases (available online here)

The 2017 median income (the point where half the workforce is paid less and half more), was $85,027. It is relevant to note that the public sector workforce has a relatively high proportion of professionals in service delivery roles.  The State Wages Policy imposed from 2017 for four years has fixed wage increase at a flat $1,000pa. The table below presents the percentage wage increase for a median public sector wage for the capped increase and as a percentage as well as CPI from 2017 to 2021.


WA State of the Sector All staff Median Salary

$1,000 pa as (%)

2017 to 2018

$1,000 pa as %

2018 to 2019

$1,000 pa as %

2019 to 2020

$1,000 pa as %

2020 to 2021

Total $1,000 pm at %, 2017 to 2021








% Change annually







All groups CPI;  Perth







Sources: Public Sector Commission, State of the sectors 2017 Statistical Bulletin (available online here) ;ABS, Consumer Price Index, Australia, September 2021, TABLE 10. CPI: Group, Sub-group and Expenditure Class, Percentage change from corresponding quarter of previous year by Capital City (available online here). 

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