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Public Sector News from Queensland – pay rise on ice

SOURCE: Workplace Express

A QUEENSLAND IRC full bench has stayed arbitration of a replacement core public sector enterprise agreement and an interim pay rise, pending the result of a Supreme Court hearing in December.

Vice President Di Linnane, Deputy President Adrian Bloomfield and Commissioner John Thompson accepted the Public Service Commission’s “logical and practical” arguments that the two matters should be delayed until the Supreme Court in December conducts a statutory review of Industrial Court President David Hall’s June 24 decision that the state’s IRC has jurisdiction to hear its 2.35% pay increase claim backdated to January 31 last year (seeRelated Article).

While acknowledging that public servants covered by theState Government Departments Certified Agreement 2009(which nominally expired on July 31 last year) “continue to suffer detriment” from their pay freeze since mid-2011, it was sympathetic to the Public Service Commission’s argument that significant “time, effort and expense” would be involved if arbitration of a new agreement was “parked” while Together pursued its pay claim.

The decision is consistent with the same full bench’s April 30 ruling that the two matters could not proceed in parallel, triggering an allegation of apprehended bias by some 20 unions (see Related Article).

Acknowledging the “strongly divergent views” held by opposing parties, the full bench last week said the state’s public servants are unlikely to receive a pay increase any time soon.

It said that if the Supreme Court decides the review in the PSC’s favour (that President Hall incorrectly found the pay claim is within the IRC’s jurisdiction), the claim will be referred back to the Industrial Court for consideration.

Alternatively, if the Supreme Court rules that there was no error, the matter would return to the Commission, enabling the PSC to run a “flood-gates” argument that unders331(b) of the state’s IR Act, “further proceedings by the court or commission are not necessary or desirable in the public interest”.

Read the decision here.

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