Government Wages Policy makes Public Sector workers do the heavy lifting on reducing the deficit

Wednesday 31 May 2017

Members will likely have heard the Premier’s announcement of a revised Public Sector Wages Policy of a flat increase of $1000pa.

Under the Government’s new wages policy “The terms of existing enterprise agreements will be honoured.” The HSUWA’s agreement has a further 12 months to run. The next increase under our agreement will be 1.5% for all classifications from 1 July 2017. A new wages schedule showing the 1 July increases will be published shortly. 

Our Agreement comes up for renegotiation by 30 June 2018. We commence consultation with members toward the end of this year. As always, members will determine the claims they want to be made in the lead up to negotiating of the new agreement.

The Committee of Management of the HSUWA resolved at their last meeting as follows:

“The HSUWA COM notes the correspondence from the Premier dated 12th May, 2017 and appreciates the opportunity for consultation during the various review processes that the Government has established. We particularly welcome the commitment to introduce paid family and domestic violence leave for public sector workers. An initiative long championed by the Union and long overdue.

We remain concerned however, that to date the Government has unfairly targeted its own workforce in cutting costs and we believe that the burden of budget repair, that is necessary due to the financial state of affairs left by the previous Government, must be shared equitably across the WA Community.

We condemn the Government for the breach of their pre-election public sector policy that included a commitment to retain the then existing wages policy including 1.5% per annum wage increases.

We note the Governments amended wages policy and reiterate our long held view that wages policy is simply the Governments bargaining position in negotiations. We will consult with our public sector members in formulating and prosecuting our claim for a replacement Industrial Agreement in 2018.

We call on the Government to remove the unfair provision introduced by the previous Barnett Government, that the cost of any arbitrated outcome in excess of this Statement will need to be met from within agencies’ approved salary expense budgets.”

It should be noted that the effects of the proposed flat $1,000 increases from 2018 are mixed, as the salary schedule attached shows. Up to and including Level G-3.2 the flat increase provides a greater than 1.5% salary increase, at least in the first year. The flipside of that is that those members Level G-3.3 and above get less than 1.5% pay increases. The longer run issue with flat dollar increases is that they flatten the pay scale and make it difficult to attract and retain people in higher level positions.

Looking after the lower paid during tough times is a decent goal, but the union’s objective has to be to protect and further the interests of all of our members. We will be working on how to address these issues both for next year and the future as we go through the process of preparing our claims for the next round of bargaining.

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