Pay rise talks between the Victorian government and the public sector union will likely continue into 2020, with the threat of industrial action still on the table, as the expiry date of the deal covering roughly 40,000 workers looms.
The state government has confirmed its public sector pay rise offer will stay at 2%, according to the Victorian branch of the Community and Public Sector Union, whose Enterprise Agreement expires on December 31.
It comes following a 3.5% base pay rise for the state’s MP’s from September, after they had already received a 2.92% increase in July. Victorian premier Daniel Andrews took home an 11.8% salary increase, making him the highest paid state leader in the country with a $441,000 pay packet.
“This non-negotiable 2% per annum pay offer is not the Christmas gift the rest of the government workforce was hoping to receive. CPSU has rejected this offer,” state secretary Karen Batt said in a recent update to union members.
She said members would have options to advance claims in the new year, which she argues “seems to be what the government intends for us to do”, in an attempt to “drag out bargaining for as long as it requires to delay paying for improvements”.
Negotiations have been ongoing since July, but have failed to make an agreement on behalf of more than 40 departments and administrative offices with a 40,000-strong workforce. They will continue over the next three weeks in an attempt to “narrow the points of disagreement”, with bargaining talks to recommence early next year.
Batt noted employees can make an application to the Fair Work Commission for a protected action ballot order. She said Police Association members have been voting on protected action, while the Paramedics Union has also been considering it.
“CPSU will consider this option dependent on any further progress in negotiations. Between now and Christmas CPSU organisers will be available to meet with members about the government’s pay offer,” she said.
The secretary warned industrial action could be on the cards in September.
“The government needs to urgently re-think the wages policy for its workforce,” Batt told The Mandarin. “The justifications of their wage tribunal for granting these increases equally apply to each and every government employee, but these workers are denied access to similar tribunal determinations until we’re forced to take industrial action and hurt the Victorian community, and that makes no sense.
“Our members are white hot about these increases for MPs and the blatant double standard on wages.”
Commenting on the Police Association’s call for a pay rise earlier this month, Premier Andrews said industrial action wouldn’t work.
“Industrial action won’t get us a fair and reasonable outcome. It’s instead sitting down and talking through those issues, so that’s what I would urge,” he said.