A WAR over public sector salaries is set to erupt this year as unions prepare to challenge the state government's cap on wages.
Police, nurses, prison guards and the broader public service will all start negotiating new enterprise agreements this year, and unions have the 2 per cent pay rise cap in their sights.
When Premier Lara Giddings announced the cap it was expected to save the government $135.6million over four years on its $2 billion wages bill.
Community and Public Sector Union state secretary Tom Lynch said workers were mindful of the state's tight budget situation but deserved to be paid fairly.
"Public sector workers make it clear that they would share some of the pain, but they've now effectively had real wage cuts for two years," Mr Lynch said. "People (working in the public sector) are under significant cost of living pressures like everyone else."
The Examiner revealed yesterday that paramedics have launched a test case in the industrial commission, which could cost state Treasury millions of dollars for those 300-odd workers.
Teachers plan to launch an industrial campaign too, well before their agreement expires in March.
Australian Education Union state president Terry Polglase said teachers wanted their wages tied, once again, to those of their mainland counterparts.
"We have made it clear to (Education Minister) Nick McKim that we do not expect to become the lowest paid teachers in the country," Mr Polglase said.
In Victoria, teachers plan to strike for 24 hours next month over pay and conditions.
Ms Giddings said the state wages policy was a critical part of her government's savings strategy.
"The state government welcomes the responsible approach taken by public sector unions in wage negotiations to date, which has helped to minimise the need for job losses and put the budget back on the pathway to sustainability," Ms Giddings said.
Opposition finance spokesman Peter Gutwein said the Labor- Green government had trashed the economy and "unfortunately the public sector, just like the rest of Tasmania, are paying the price".
Wage rises are restricted to 2per cent, with a potential 0.5 per cent bonus, for the majority of the state service.