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Pay rise cap fight looms

A WAR over public sector salaries  is set to erupt this year as unions  prepare to challenge the state  government’s cap on wages.

Police, nurses, prison guards  and the broader public service will  all start negotiating new  enterprise agreements this year,  and unions have the 2 per cent pay  rise cap in their sights.

When Premier Lara Giddings  announced the cap it was expected  to save the government  $135.6million over four years on  its $2 billion wages bill.

Community and Public Sector  Union state secretary Tom Lynch  said workers were mindful of the  state’s tight budget situation but  deserved to be paid fairly.

“Public sector workers make it  clear that they would share some  of the pain, but they’ve now  effectively had real wage cuts for  two years,” Mr Lynch said. “People  (working in the public sector) are  under significant cost of living  pressures like everyone else.”

The Examiner revealed yesterday  that paramedics have  launched a test case in the industrial  commission, which could cost  state Treasury millions of dollars  for those 300-odd workers.

Teachers plan to launch an industrial  campaign too, well before  their agreement expires in March.

Australian Education Union  state president Terry Polglase said  teachers wanted their wages tied,  once again, to those of their mainland  counterparts.

“We have made it clear to (Education  Minister) Nick McKim that  we do not expect to become the  lowest paid teachers in the  country,” Mr Polglase said.

In Victoria, teachers plan to  strike for 24 hours next month  over pay and conditions.

Ms Giddings said the state  wages policy was a critical part of  her government’s savings strategy.

“The state government welcomes  the responsible approach  taken by public sector unions in  wage negotiations to date, which  has helped to minimise the need  for job losses and put the budget  back on the pathway to  sustainability,” Ms Giddings said.

Opposition finance spokesman  Peter Gutwein said the Labor- Green government had trashed the  economy and “unfortunately the  public sector, just like the rest of  Tasmania, are paying the price”.

Wage rises are restricted to  2per cent, with a potential 0.5 per  cent bonus, for the majority of the  state service.


Source: The Examiner, Dinah Arndt, 16/01/13,

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