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Public sector pay talks begin

Merc

The Mercury, David Killick, July 5, Find the original article here

NEGOTIATIONS begin today to decide the pay and conditions for 15,000 of the state’s public sector workers for the next three years.

With the State Budget predicting consumer price index increases of 2.5 per cent a year, unions have signalled that their members expect increases of at least that amount to avoid real wages going backwards.

The enterprise bargaining negotiations have the potential to put further pressure on Tasmania’s already tight finances.

An overwhelming majority of union members employed in the public sector have endorsed a log of claims that will form the basis of negotiations.

Community and Public Sector Union general secretary Tom Lynch today said the two per cent wage increases of recent years could not continue forever.

“Members have acknowledged the difficult financial circumstances Tasmania has been through by exercising wage restraint over the past two years,” he said

Health and Community Services Union assistant secretary Tim Jacobson said unions would work with the Government to try to achieve a satisfactory result without blowing the budget.

“In the claim they are saying that wages can’t continue to fall in real terms but are also putting forward the measures that will make the savings needed to deliver decent wage outcomes,” he said.

Premier Lara Giddings said the Government would negotiate with the seven unions involved in the process in good faith.

“The State Government is committed to working constructively with the CPSU to progress the broad range of issues contained within the log of claims,” she said.

Ms Giddings has promised a memorandum of understanding to enshrine shared values and principles to guide the development of a modern and productive public service

“A number of these issues are also relevant to the separate discussions we will be having with public sector unions to progress the memorandum of understanding I outlined at the Labor State Conference at the weekend.

“It is my intention to sign a MoU before the next election that enshrines a shared set of values and principles to underpin a modern adaptive workforce and the delivery of high quality services.”

Negotiations over the public sector agreement are expected to take up to three months.

 

Union warns on wage cap

Ex

The Examiner, Rosemary Bolger, July 5, find the original article here.

THE state government is under pressure to break its wages cap to avoid a fierce dispute with the state’s biggest unions in the lead-up to the March election.

The unions representing 10,000 public servants yesterday told the government that continuing to limit wage increases to 2 per cent would be “unacceptable”.

The public service agreement is just one of 15 up for renegotiation before the election, with teachers, police officers and firefighters among those preparing to challenge the wages cap.

Community and Public Sector Union secretary Tom Lynch would not put a figure to a pay increase demand, but indicated it would be at least 3 per cent.

“Public servants have worn the 2 per cent for the last two years,” Mr Lynch said.

“In real terms, public service wages have been going backwards, so they need a decent increase.”

Mr Lynch said negotiating with the government less than nine months from a state election was a “two-edged sword”.

While the government would be reluctant to take on angry unions so close to the polls, the unions do not want the issue to remain unresolved and to face starting from scratch with a new government.

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

Yesterday Ms Giddings would not say if there was room to move this time.

“We have a state wages policy that’s very clear, it’s in the budget, it’s there, but I can assure you that there is far more to that log of claims than just around wage growth itself,” she said.

“I won’t be negotiating through the media.”

The high number of expired agreements has been caused partly by workers opting for shorter two-year agreements in 2011 at the height of the state’s dramatic budget cuts, rather than the normal three-year period.

However, Ms Giddings denied that the number of new agreements due for renegotiation was unusual.

“It’s just normal government business,” she said.

Mr Lynch said wage increases could be balanced by productivity gains that the workforce had identified.

He believed it was possible to finalise a new agreement within three months.

The unions are also demanding that the threat of forced redundancies be removed from legislation.

“We need to get job security and we need to get decent wage outcomes,” Mr Lynch said.

 

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