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Issue #1633      April 2, 2014

WA public sector workers stand firm

On March 27 1,000 public servants rallied at the Perth Convention Centre to consider the government’s response to their pay claim. The Liberal government of Premier Colin Barnett had originally responded to the claim of the Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association’s claim of a 3 year deal of 4% each year by offering a 3 year deal of 2.5% each year.

Public servants rallied at the Perth Convention Centre to consider the government’s response to their pay claim.

On March 13, 150 workplace delegates had met to consider whether a counter offer should be made to the government to demonstrate bargaining in good faith.

Delegates were representing views in their workplaces that they considered more important, the retention of permanency and a rejection of the government’s proposal of forced redundancy ahead of a pay rise that was barely ahead of inflation and contained almost no consideration of increased productivity.

The outcome which was to be taken to a meeting of all members was a reduction of the quantum from 4% to 3.5% over each of three years.

At the March 27 meeting branch secretary Toni Walkington advised members: “The quality of service to the community is considered important by most people … a wealth of research shows that well paid workers provide a better service.”

Currently inflation is over 3.5%. WA is also one of the most expensive places to live in the country. The government also expects trade-offs in the form of a deletion of provisions in the General Agreement with public servants which relate to compliance reviews of labour hire and the Peak Consultative Forum with the CPSU/CSA and the Department of Commerce – used to respond to cross sector matters raised by the union.

Branch assistant secretary Rikki Hendon said that these trade-offs will help to facilitate their agenda of privatisation and contracting out in addition to Premier Barnett continuing to push through the Public Sector Reform Bill in State Parliament to bring about forced redundancies and give more power to public sector CEO’s.

The meeting had three motions to consider with regard to further action and rejected accepting the governments offer and the cuts to conditions which accompany the offer. They also rejected arbitration by the WA Industrial Relations Commission as there was also no guarantee of a preservation of conditions. Instead members voted unanimously to adopt a resolution whereby, “This meeting of CPSU/CSA members resolves to reject the Barnett government’s current offer, continue to bargain and commits to a campaign of industrial action and community engagement including stoppages, bans or limitations, and other forms of protest.”

Other public sector unions will soon also be presenting their demands for wage justice and the maintenance and improvement of their conditions to the WA government. These include the State School Teachers Union which has called for a rally and March to Parliament House on April 1.

The Communist Party of Australia supports public sector workers and their union’s call for salary justice and the maintenance of their hard fought for conditions.

* Richard Titelius is a CPSU/CSA delegate

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