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Changes to Wage-Freeze Bill would not affect the Government’s Budget

Government threats to the Legislative Council to pass its ‘Wage-Freeze’ Bill in its current form may backfire as it becomes clear that large sections of the Bill will have no effect on the Government’s Budget.

Parts 3, 4 and 5 of the Bill include provisions that change the State’s Industrial Relations system, despite repeated promises there would be no such changes prior to the election.

“Make no mistake, the ‘wage-freeze’ is nothing but a smokescreen for a radical change to our industrial system that constitutes a permanent attack on workers’ rights,” Unions Tasmania President Roz Madsen said.

“Part 3 of the Bill permanently erodes the independence of the Industrial Commission and completely undermines the good-faith bargaining process by allowing the Government to determine wages through regulation.

“It allows the Government to issue regulations for any level of salary, including cuts in wages, which the Industrial Commission must give effect to.

Health and Community Services Union Secretary Tim Jacobson said it was important people understood the radical and serious effects Part 5 of the Bill would have on workers.

“It has broad ranging and permanent consequences for workers’ rights. It allows the Government to issue any regulation with the flick of a pen to restrict the legitimate discretion of the Industrial Commission to exercise its powers.

Community and Public Sector Union secretary Tom Lynch said the Government would have the capacity to issue regulations on just about any matter.

“These regulations are not limited to wages. They can specify any condition or entitlement of employment. This will allow the Government to tell the Commission how it must rule on any matter, dispute, agreement or award that may come before the Commission.

“The Government could issue a regulation that applies to an individual employee, a particular case before the Commission, a sub-section of employees, or the entire public sector.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Secretary Neroli Ellis said this could apply to a determination on shift allowances or overtime.

“It is also clear that the ‘guaranteed’ 2% wage increase of following years does not exist. Subsection 7(1)(a) seems to give such a guarantee but this is overturned by the next subsection which allows the Treasurer to prescribe a salary by regulation: in theory this increase could be 0% indefinitely.”




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