Western Australian Treasurer Ben Wyatt has signalled a potential freeze to wages for the state’s public sector workers.
On Wednesday Wyatt said he was considering a pause on public sector wage increases in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is an environment where many people have lost their jobs, many people have had significant pay cuts and having a secure job is worth its weight in gold, so our wages policy will be reviewed as we’ve always said, but always reflective of the times we’re in,” he said.
The WA branch of the Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association has voiced its concerns over the move.
State secretary Rikki Hendon said the government should respect the contribution of public sector workers during the crisis, describing Wyatt’s decision to float a wage freeze as “disappointing”.
“Public sector workers are delivering the state’s COVID-19 response in our community. They have provided stability and support for all Western Australian’s through this crisis,” she said on Thursday.
“People working in Corrections, Child Protection, Housing, Education, Health and beyond have shared risk to their own health to continue delivering the services we rely on.”
Hendon argued a restrictive approach to public sector spending “does not make sense” as the state prepares for economic recovery.
“Many of our members are fortunate to have secure employment through this period. However, as we see extensive private sector job losses, they are increasingly the only earner in their household and the secure spending in their communities,” she said.
“Restricting their income will stifle local economies at exactly the time we need spending to induce recovery.
“I am optimistic that the treasurer has left the door open for further discussion. CPSU/CSA members will continue to work for all Western Australian’s and to push for a stimulus driven response to the COVID-19 crisis.”
It comes just a week after the federal government announced it would freeze wage increases for all Australian Public Service employees for six months.