Blanket Public Sector Wage Policy Dismantled
The WA government has abandoned its blanket, public sector-wide wages policy, instead opting to return to individual negotiations with unions. Premier Roger Cook said the move will allow more flexibility in negotiations and allow for "fair but financially sustainable" increases. In recent years the government has negotiated conditions and bonuses with individual unions, but locked in a set pay rise for more than 140,000 public sector staff. Cook said moving away from all public sector workers being offered the same pay rise would deliver greater flexibility in the bargaining process, to ensure unions can have industrial issues affecting their members better addressed. Next year will see many public sector unions renegotiate their pay and conditions agreements with the government, which hopes the process will go more smoothly than the last round.
The move away from a uniform policy has been welcomed by unions, including those represented by UnionsWA – an alliance of more than 30 unions.
"It's now imperative that the WA government come to the table and negotiate with unions genuinely for real wages growth that will attract and retain workers to deliver the services that we need for the future," CPSU/CSA secretary Rikki Hendon said.
Industrial Relations Minister Simone McGurk said finding ways of attracting people to regional areas, and keeping them there, would be a key part of negotiations, as well as increasing "direct and permanent" employment in the public sector.
Asked whether the plans could see unions fighting each other for a bigger pay rise, the minister said she wanted all areas of the public sector — including frontline and behind-the-scenes workers — to feel valued.
Simone McGurk says the government does not want to pitch public sector workers against one another. "We will work very hard to make sure that there is a fair application of this wages policy. We don't want to pitch public sector worker against public sector worker," Ms McGurk said.