Pay freeze legislation tabled

THE state’s 25,000 public servants will be stopped from moving up within their pay brackets for a year under new legislation tabled in State Parliament yesterday.

The Crown Employers (Salaries) Bill 2014 sets out to stop public servants from receiving any automatic pay rises, including a 2 per cent wage increase, for 12 months in an effort to save $50 million each year over the forward estimates.

The Liberal government’s signature savings legislation is expected to be debated tomorrow.

The state service is the largest employer in the state, employing 12 per cent of all working Tasmanians.

It costs $2.4 billion to run, taking up half the state’s budget.

The wage freeze bill formed an essential part of the government’s savings strategy stemming from last week’s budget.

Combined with the sacking of 500 public servants within two years and a further 200 over the next four, it allows the government to find $370 million in savings.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the pay freeze would save the equivalent of 500 public sector jobs.

‘‘Without the wage pause, these 500 positions would have to go,’’ Mr Gutwein told parliament.

The legislation will apply the freeze at the next scheduled pay rise for public servants.

It will also enable regulation to vary away from the 2 per cent increase, which the government says allows it to ‘‘deliver higher wages outcomes where the state’s finances can support it’’.

Unions, the state opposition and the Greens oppose the legislation.

‘‘This government has just cynically walked into the house today, and laid down a piece of legislation that says ‘we’re not going to hold up our side of the bargain, you’re not going to get the increases we promised, and by the way, in the future, you’re wage increases will come from regulation determined by the government’,’’ Community and Public Sector Union secretary Tom Lynch said.

Opposition Leader Bryan Green said the full effect on the public service was still unclear.

‘‘I think it’s just unfair, and more importantly it was never promised,’’ he said.

Greens leader Kim Booth said it was ‘‘sneaky’’ legislation.

‘‘The [Premier Will] Hodgman regime is not only freezing public sector wages for 12 months with no mandate, but has sneakily introduced legislation that will allow it to regulate to freeze public sector wages for a further 12 months, or even longer,’’ Mr Booth said.

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