Public servant pay plan fires up unions

Peter Gutwein
Peter Gutwein

UNIONS have slammed a state government plan to freeze the wages of public servants for at least a year, labelling the proposal underhanded and totally unacceptable.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein has announced the government is considering introducing a one-year wage pause for public servants in an attempt to ease pressure on the state budget.

The freeze would be followed by only 2 per cent pay increases.

Mr Gutwein estimated the move would save up to 500 jobs and $50 million.

Community and Public Sector Union acting general secretary Mat Johnston said the announcement had blindsided the public service.

He said the government would need to make legislative changes to implement the freeze, and that Mr Gutwein and Premier Will Hodgman did not reveal any such plans when the pair met with unions last week.

"They had the opportunity to explain to us they were considering certain things and we would have engaged with them," Mr Johnston said.

"They dodged questions and refused to put anything on the table."

Mr Johnston said the government was setting a dangerous precedent.

"They've looked to undermine what is a fundamental right of Australian workers to bargain with their employers, reach an agreement, register that agreement and adhere to it," he said.

"We have some serious concerns about where this government is going and what they're going to do next."

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation said the proposed changes were outrageous, while the Australian Education Union said a wage freeze would be a slap in the face to quality education.

Labor MHA Lara Giddings said the Liberal government was trying to make public servants pay for election promises they could not afford.

"How dare the Premier and Peter Gutwein go back to the unions and walk away from an enterprise agreement that under the law should be abided by," Ms Giddings said.

Greens leader Kim Booth said the proposal was slimy and unconscionable.

"Apparently the state can't afford honouring a wage agreement with our nurses, teachers and police, but can afford Liberal ministerial political advisers pulling in huge six- figure salaries," Mr Booth said.

"The hypocrisy and double standards is breathtaking."


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