Fight for fair wages, key to Labor win in NSW

  • 21 April 2023

The Australian Labor Party recently won the state election in New South Wales, Australia—a clear win for and by public services workers including PSI’s affiliates.   The unions’ fight  against privatisation, and their campaign for fair wages and better working conditions were key to this victory.  Unions are optimistic that the Labor Party’s election is the “first step towards meaningful reform” as the incoming government is “committed to repairing the systemic issues that have been hampering [the country’s] health services.”

In 2011, the NSW Liberal-National Government introduced the NSW Public Sector Wages Policy. This means whenever the PSA/ CPSU NSW lodges a pay claim, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) is limited by law to awarding no more than 2.5 per cent, no matter how strong our case.  The cap is even enforced on Public Sector Workers outside the jurisdiction of the NSW IRC through Government control of the Boards of State Owned Corporations, such as TAFE, WaterNSW and Forestry Corporation.

With the NSW Government being the largest employer in the country, the policy of wage restraint flows on, pulling down pay rises in all states and all industries.  When you factor in inflation the NSW Government’s cap on wage increases means the real wages of  members are no longer keeping up with the cost of living.  Making things worse is that members received a paltry 0.3 per cent salary increase in 2020, after the Berejiklian/Perrottet Government attempted to freeze Public Sector wages.

When inflation rose significantly that year, Public Sector workers experienced a real pay cut at the worst possible time.

It’s been an exhausting couple of years.  PSA/CPSU NSW members have been working hard to protect our state on many different fronts, working through a pandemic, bushfires and floods.  There are few who haven’t acknowledged the critical and essential role played
by the Champions of the NSW Public Sector during the past few years but with the change of government then there's light at the end of our struggle.