As WA’s finances recover, unfair wage policy must end

Friday 10 May 2019

Yesterday the WA Treasurer handed down the 2019/20 State Budget. Although HSUWA is now combing through the finer details, one thing is clear. The State Government’s public sector wages policy is unfair and unsustainable.
 
This year’s budget was a celebration for the State Government who for the first time in five years in WA announced a surplus. But despite this, the State Wages Policy remains capped at $1,000 - a policy that is simply not helping the local economy.
 
Wage growth in WA is at record low levels. It is essential for the state that this situation change.
 
Twice in the past week the government has conceded it is not prepared to update its policy despite its budget bottom line improving significantly.
 
What we’ve learnt from yesterday’s budget is that government charges have increased an average of 2 per cent for the next financial year.  The government is predicting cost of living (CPI) increases of 1.75 per cent, 2.25 per cent and 2.5 per cent over the next three years.
 
This clearly proves it has room to move based on its own budget predictions. A flat increase of $1,000 does not cut it for many of our members.  For some it results in a real wage cut.  
 
Furthermore, the policy does not allow for adjustments in employment arrangements, including arrangements that facilitate better health services. This is unsustainable and unacceptable.
 
Members were prepared to share the burden when things were tough, and WA’s finances were in the red. Now we are back in the black, they deserve to share the benefits as our state’s finances recover.  
 
While it is not enough, the very least the government could do is ensure that wage increases for all public sector employees keep up with the cost of living.
 
This budget has failed to address these issues, it’s unfair and unsustainable.

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