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Public sector pay cut fears

The Mercury, May 27,  pg 5, Michelle Paine

See original article here.


THOUSANDS of public sector workers are facing effective pay cuts under the tight State Budget, unions say.

Talks on agreements covering about 12,000 workers are due to start next month.

The Community and Public Sector Union’s Tom Lynch said the Budget’s forward estimates allowed only for the current 2 per cent pay cap.

“The Government set the wages policy for four years at 2 per cent and now they’ve extended that,” Mr Lynch said.

“But it’s forecasting 2.5 per cent CPI, so that means a real wage cut.

“With a 2 per cent pay cut over six years and inflation of 2.5 per cent, that means you’re going backwards by 3 per cent.

“That’s equal to about $2000 for the average public sector worker.”

The State Government said those negotiations had yet to start and it would not pre-empt any wage outcomes.

In the State Budget, handed down on Thursday, most government departments were listed as having an increase of 2 or 3 per cent.

Some economists pointed out that was not enough to cover scheduled wage increases, let alone further wage rises that workers would bargain for in negotiations.

Mr Lynch said the union would negotiate in good faith and would put forward what workers wanted.

“Public servants have already given more than their fair share,” he said. “There have been 1800 jobs gone since 2011-12, there is no money and no increase in job numbers.

“Some of these targets seem unachievable.”

Talks for government schoolteachers are to start this year.

More than 5000 teachers are covered by the agreement.

Australian Education Union Tasmanian president Terry Polglase said he could not make predictions and it depended what members told the union in coming weeks.

“They’re the lowest paid now, and 2 per cent isn’t going to help us get off the bottom,” Mr Polglase said.

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