PSUWA Update: Treasurer Gutwein has a problem with arithmetic
IN NEGOTIATIONS for the Public Sector Unions Agreement last Friday Hodgman government negotiators provided detail that showed the actual difference between the government’s meagre wages policy and the cost of delivering a fair wage increase is a minimal $19.56M over three years. In May the Treasurer Peter Gutwein told the public that the wage increases put forward in our claim would ‘cost an extra $180 million and lead to job cuts and a loss of services’.
That’s right – the Treasurer overestimated the cost of the wages claim by 920%.
Last financial year we had a ‘surprise’ surplus of $62.7M and this year Treasurer Gutwein is forecasting another surplus of $77.3M. Combined surpluses of $140M over two years means the Hodgman government can provide public sector employees with a fair pay rise. Private sector wage growth in Tasmania is the fastest in the country while public sector wage growth is the slowest. Tasmanian public sector employees have accepted on average below inflation wage outcomes for the past four years. It’s time for your good will to be acknowledged and Tasmanian public sector employees to be respected with a decent pay offer.
What have union members claimed? 2.5% in 2016, 2.75% in 2017 and 3% in 2018.
Government is attempting to divide public sector employees over basic entitlements
Public sector workers in Tasmania have the lowest entitlements for paid parental leave in the country. Last week we were told that by government negotiators that if it was to agree to an increase in the basic entitlement for paid maternity leave the ‘cost’ of any change would need to be met by lower wage outcomes. The government estimated the cost of increasing paid parental leave by one week was 0.1% of salary so improving parental leave from the current 12 weeks to a decent 18 weeks would cost every public sector worker 0.6% meaning this improvement alone would ensure the maximum salary increase paid in the next Agreement would be 1.4%. Never before has a government sought to charge workers for the cost of improving basic conditions.
The Hodgman government’s aim is clear – it wants to divide those who are at a different stages in their life or career against each other. Those starting a family against those planning for their retirement. Those who want action on career progression against those who want changes to shift work. The Hodgman government even intends to charge public sector employees for family violence leave already announced by the Premier in his role as Family Violence Ambassador. Public sector work is decent work that should provide for those employed today and the public servants of tomorrow. Your agreement is for all.