Members Meet Across State to Consider Wages Offer

Firstly, the revised offer a reduces the period of operation from 4 years to 3-year agreement (1 July 2022 – 30 June 2025). Many members reported that they were unhappy with an initial offer that both ensured a real wage cut while asking them to agree to lock in low wage growth for almost half a decade. Even if we had reason to believe that cost of living pressures would be coming down soon, this still presents a gamble for workers. But members have reason to be sceptical: just this year Government projections that inflation would peak at 5% were debunked than two weeks after they were made. The Consumer Price Index now sits at 7.0%. 

The Detail:

In December 2022: 

  • 3.25% wage rise 
  • An additional $500 flat rate increase for salaries at Band 3 or below 
  • A one-off payment of $1,500 for Band 6 or below and $1,000 for those above Band 6 (pro-rata) 
  • A further $1,000 one-off payment for those at Band 3 or below 

In December 2023: 

  • 3.0% wage rise 

In December 2024: 

  • 3.0% wage rise 

he positive is that this represents a $1,000 improvement on the initial offer, all thanks to public sector workers taking action. But we think we can do better – and it’s important to note that for for Teacher Assistants and School Administration staff who work part time and are stood down for weeks every year, one-off pro rata payments will offer little in terms of cost of living relief. These workers are already being let down by the pro rata system and under the revised offer have had their claim to abolish the outdated practice of stand down rejected without consideration. In fact, the vast majority of your 100 Claims for a Better State Service have either been rejected or not even responded to in agency meetings as of today. 

Digging Deeper on Conditions: 

Our Log of Claims contained over 100 claims for a Better State Service, broken down by whole-of-membership claims to agency-specific and occupation-specific claims. Several agencies have yet to meet with us to even commence negotiations. A few important conditions have been met – a promising start:   

Paid Parental Leave  (increase to current standard and a change to conditions) Primary Caregiver: 18 weeks paid parental leave  Secondary Caregiver: 4 weeks paid parental leave at the time of the birth. An additional 12 weeks paid parental leave if the secondary caregiver takes over primary care responsibilities within the first 18 months of the life of the child. 
Unpaid Grandparent Leave (as part of Parental Leave)  (New entitlement) 52 weeks continuous unpaid leave where grandparents assume primary care giving responsibilities in respect of the birth of adoption of a child. 
Foster Leave  (New entitlement) Up to 10 days paid leave per year to support foster carers, recognising diverse family arrangements.  
Surrogacy Leave  (New entitlement) 6 weeks paid surrogacy leave for an employee acting as a surrogate in a formal surrogacy arrangement pursuant to Surrogacy Act 2012. 
Bereavement and Compassionate Leave  (Amended entitlement) Amend the scope of Bereavement and Compassionate Leave to include still birth and miscarriage, enabling employees to take up to 10 days compassionate and bereavement leave in these circumstances. 
Aboriginal Cultural Leave  (New entitlement) 5 days paid leave per year for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, to assist in cultural and ceremonial obligations or community culture events. 
Disability Leave  (New entitlement) 5 days paid leave per year to be used for activities or appointments associated with the employee’s disability as defined in the Disability Services Act 2011 (Tas). 
Gender Transition Leave  (New entitlement) 4 weeks paid leave and 48 weeks unpaid leave for employees undertaking a gender affirmation process. 

Government Offer Hinges on Conditions

However – there’s a but. The Government’s revised offer is conditional on parties reaching an in-principle agreement on all other conditions matters before December 2022 or else any wage rise will be delayed and not backdated. The Government also indicated that where conditions beyond those included in the offer have a cost, it will need to be met by Agencies rather than being centrally funded (i.e.: staff cuts). This is both a cop out – and a threat. 

We have been asked to respond by 21 October and have a meeting scheduled with Jenny Gale on 25 October to report back on ‘fast tracked’ negotiations on outstanding conditions matters.  

Mood from Meetings So Far:

Members have expressed doubts about the Government’s claim that inflation will decrease in the years of the current wages offer. What, in effect, is being asked of public sector workers is both to accept a pay cut and then shoulder all of the risk of the Government’s budget predictions. Understandably, many members feel it’s an empty offer.  

“If the government is so confident that inflation will decrease in the coming years why won’t they offer a solution that share the risk with workers instead of making us carry all the risk of further cost of living increases?” said one member at a meeting last week. 

“Any wages offer absolutely needs to be hedged against CPI.” 

There has also been significant frustration over the Government’s threat to refuse to backdate any wage rises if an agreement cannot be reached in time for a December 2022 pay rise. “Holding us to ransom with backdating the agreement and wages is extortion,” said one member. 

With less than three months left in a year that has seen inflation skyrocket to 7.0% we will push the Government to ensure workers get some form of wages relief in time for the holidays – but an offer that sounds quite like a threat, fails to even address most of your claims and seeks to lock in pay rises is not what we’d have hoped from a Premier who promised to lead a, “Government with heart.”  

We’ll have another update on the progress of bargaining with each agency on Monday – so stay tuned. If you have any questions or feedback – or a message you’d like to share with the Premier and the Tasmanian community – get in touch at communications@tas.cpsu.com.au.  

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