The Liberals are again in locked horns as they were in their first term of government with their old foes the unions, refusing to budge on their policy of a 2 per cent pay cap on public sector wages.
This was a policy held by the government in their first term when the wages agreement was last negotiated although was done so with financial and workplace incentives to get it across the line.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein has said although the wages policy meant a cap of 2 per cent rise each year over three years, a large number of public servants would get more than that through additional increases.
“In 2017-18, based on the wage price index, on average public servants in Tasmania received wages growth of 2.6 per cent,” he said.
Unions have been relatively reluctant to put a figure on a pay increase, but the health and education unions have argued they should be brought up to parity with their mainland counterparts who they say earn about $10,000 on average more a year.
Mr Gutwein has said a rise of 1 per cent above the government’s cap would result in extra wage costs across the public service of more than $28 million for the first year.
As a result of the government’s refusal to budget, the state’s key unions have started an agenda of rolling out different actions almost each week for the past few months.
Among the work bans, all CPSU members have instituted a a ban on all unpaid work and breaks to be taken away from workplaces.
They will not accept flexible working arrangements and are not contactable out of work times.
Members within the Forensic Science Services have decided not to calibrate 10 per cent of road breathalysers.
HASCU and ANMF members will not be involved in elective surgery procedures on mornings at the Mersey Community Hospital until December 14.
HACSU members in specialist clinics will not process Medicate claims, members within Housing Tasmania will not process rent increase or recover maintenance debt, and members in Ambulance Tasmania will only accept overtime shifts if they choose to do so.
ANMF members have put in place a ban on overtime in theatres at the Launceston General Hospital unless there is an emergency.
AEU members will leave work at the completion of paid time each Thursday and TasTAFE teachers have committed not to visit employers of apprentices.
The Public Sector Wages Agreement was forged in 2016 between the government and state branches of the Australian Education Union, Community and Public Sector Union, Health Services Union and United Voice.
It expired June 30 this year.
It set out a salary increase of 2 per cent, or $1144 if greater, after December 1, 2016 and 2 per cent, of $1167 if greater, after December 1, 2017.
Night-shift workers in the health service were given 18 per cent loading for night work in 2016 and 22 per cent in 2017.
Salaries and wages for the public sector in 2017-18 was $2.72 billion which was $198 million greater than the expense was in 2016-17.
Employee expenses last financial year were $168 million higher than anticipated.
As at June this year, there were 30,323 people employed in the public sector.
This figure sat at 29,075 in 2017 and 29,000 in 2016.
The biggest employer was the Education Department with 11,031 employees, with 8171 full-time-equivalents, and the Tasmanian Health Service with 10,924 employees, including 8275 full-time-equivalents.
A regional breakdown of the workforce showed 15,806 public sector employees worked in the South, 7420 in the North, and 5287 in the North-West.