Wage increase for 400,000 public servants in NSW slashed
The wages of more than 400,000 public sector workers will increase by 0.3 per cent over the next 12 months, after a ruling by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC).
The NSW Government in May moved to freeze wages for one year due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, in an effort to save the state $3 billion.
While Thursday’s decision is technically a pay rise, it has angered unions who have not ruled out industrial action.
Under the state’s previous wages policy, public sector employees were able to pursue a 2.5 per cent pay rise each year.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said earlier this year pausing pay rises would secure public sector jobs as the state confronts the economic consequences of coronavirus.
The policy was blocked in the Upper House and the decision deferred to the industrial umpire.
The decision from the IRC mandates the 0.3 per cent increase can be awarded to employees by way of an increase to salary, a lump-sum payment, or determined by a bespoke policy.
The commission said the ruling was not “made easily” and recognised that the 0.3 per cent increase may be perceived “as notional at best”.
The IRC heard evidence that employees would suffer a reduction of 0.3 per cent in their real wages due to inflation.
The Government in June offered a one-off bonus of $1,000 to nurses, police officers, paramedics, teachers and train crews in the face of widespread backlash to the wage freeze.
Opposition Leader Jodi McKay said 400,000 public sector workers had “missed out” and that she was disappointed about the IRC’s decision.
Ms McKay said she had no assurances from the Government that public-sector jobs would be guaranteed for the next 12 months.
Mark Morey, Secretary of Unions NSW, said the decision was a “kick in the guts for every public sector worker that got us through the bushfires and COVID”.
He said they would review the ruling and consider taking further legal or industrial action.