Monday, 5 October 2020

NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government effectively gets its public sector wage cuts in the middle of a global pandemic


An est. 400,000 public sector workers throughout New South Wales, including health workers and teachers in the regions, received a slap in the face this month.

According to the Headnote in NSW Industrial Relations Commission, Application for Crown Employees (Public Sector – Salaries 2020) Award and Other Matters (No 2) [2020], 1 October 2020:

Between 9 March 2020 and 29 May 2020 the Public Service Association and Professional Officers’ Association Amalgamated Union of New South Wales, the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association, the Health Services Union of New South Wales and the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation (New South Wales) (collectively, “Applicants”) filed in the Commission a total of 43 applications seeking orders for the making of awards to replace, or to vary, 41 existing awards. In each case the application calls on the Commission to confer on employees covered by the existing or proposed awards an increase of 2.5% to their salaries and salary-related allowances to take effect from the first pay period on or after 1 July 2020…..

A decision not to award any increases for the year commencing 1 July 2020 may see employees under the relevant awards suffer a reduction of 0.3% in their real wages over the two year period to 30 June 2021…..

The evidence, in particular the economic evidence, adduced in the proceedings calls for restraint in the particular circumstances of the current financial year. At the same time, in the exercise of the Commission’s discretion and having regard to all of the economic considerations the Full Bench does not accept that an outcome that would see a decrease in the real earnings of employees would be fair and reasonable.

The Full Bench proposes to make awards and variations to avoid such a reduction, by awarding increases of 0.3%.....

Decision: Determination that salaries and salary-related allowances in the awards the subject of the applications should be increased by 0.3% with effect from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020.

In this matter the position of the Berejiklian Government was as follows; The position of the Employers [represented by the NSW Crown Solicitor] can be summarised as contending that the Commission should award no increases to salaries and salary-related allowances, whether by making a new award or varying an existing one. Instead, the Commission should make an award or a variation in respect of each of the Joined Applications which has a nominal term of one year, which awards no increase to salaries and salary-related allowances and contains a no extra claims clause.

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