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Things Are Crook in NSW

PUBLIC sector workers around the country are doing it tough, but some state governments are going that extra mile to avoid genuine bargaining and independent decisions.


On gaining power in NSW the O’Farrell Government used its legislative powers to pass laws limiting wage outcomes the Industrial Relations Commission could award to workers to 2.5% per annum. The CPSU in NSW challenged the laws through to the High Court because they unreasonably restricted the authority of the independent tribunal to make fair decisions, but they were unsuccessful.


In April the CPSU in NSW applied for a wage increase of 2.5% – consistent with the government’s cap. The O’Farrell Government opposed the 2.5% increase arguing that as the Superannuation Guarantee Contributions (SGC) were to rise by 0.25% from 1 July the salary increase should only be 2.25%. The CPSU successfully disputed this position, saying the superannuation guarantee should be an employer cost and not hit employee hip pockets, and the Industrial Commission awarded the increase of 2.5%.


Now the O’Farrell Government is appealing the Commission’s decision and wants to change the law so that even if they lose the appeal any wage increase would be discounted by the 0.25% SGC.


This is just one example from around the country where a state government has used its legislative power to override the rights of public sector workers to bargain in good faith and to undermine the independent industrial tribunal. We’re fortunate we haven’t experienced similar behaviour in Tasmania but we must learn from what’s happening in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia so we’re prepared in case a future Tasmanian government takes the same path. The CPSU hopes to organise forums later this year so Delegates can hear the experiences of their interstate counterparts.


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