Public sector industrial action is set to escalate in coming weeks as the wage dispute drags on.
Labor leader Rebecca White said it was time the government ditched its “arrogant” 2 per cent wage cap.
Community and Public Sector Union general secretary Tom Lynch said it was “very disappointing” that Premier Will Hodgman had decided to extend the industrial campaign into 2019 “rather than sitting down with his workforce and resolving the dispute”.
“In a significant sign of good faith the CPSU lifted all industrial action to facilitate real negotiations occurring but the Premier has ignored this opportunity - failing to even respond to correspondence,” Mr Lynch said.
“Our members will be left with no option other than to recommence action and withdraw their labour.
“Mr Hodgman will be directly responsible for any disruptions to services.”
Ms White said Tasmania’s hard working teachers, nurses, paramedics, park rangers and child safety officers were among thousands of committed public service workers who had been waiting more than a month for a pay rise.
“The new pay agreements were meant to start in people’s first pay after December 1,” she said.
“But, because of the Liberal Government refusing to scrap its wage cap and negotiate in good faith, Tasmanian workers, who are among the worst paid in the country, are now lagging further behind.”
“In a ‘golden age’, it’s only fair that workers are rewarded for all their hard work – not taken for granted.”
A government spokesperson said the Tasmanian Government had been negotiating in good faith for months and continued to do so.
“So far we have put formal offers providing for a 6 per cent pay rise over three years and improved terms and conditions to six different unions,” she said.
“The government has yet to receive a single formal counter-offer from these unions.
“The government has always believed Tasmanians deserve a pay rise, but importantly, it must be fair, reasonable and affordable so we can continue to invest in front-line services for Tasmanians.”
Mr Lynch said he had provided counter offers to government negotiators.
Unions Tasmania secretary Jessica Munday said the wage cap was holding the wages of all Tasmanians back.
She said 2019 was an opportunity for Mr Hodgman and Treasurer Peter Gutwein to approach public sector wage negotiations from “a position of genuine, good faith bargaining”.
“As the state’s largest employer, the government sends a strong signal to the private sector that they don’t need to offer decent pay rises while they cling to this cap,” Ms Munday said.
“With Tasmanians on average earning more than $200 a week less than their interstate counterparts, there has never been a more compelling case for decent pay rises for Tasmanians.
“The 2 per cent wages cap has been in place since 2011 and it’s high time it was scrapped.”
Further talks are scheduled on January 22.