20.10.2017

WA’s flat-rate pay rise comes with family violence leave, labour hire limits


Western Australian public sector workers have accepted a new employment deal that will provide two annual pay rises of $1000 and 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave to over 33,000 government employees.

The Civil Service Association announced its members had voted in favour of the deal yesterday afternoon and summarised its key elements. These include provisions to limit the use of labour hire and commitments to a preference for permanent employment over fixed term, casual and labour hire contracts.

Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said nine industrial agreements would be replaced, covering public servants and government officers, school support officers, electorate officers, social trainers, jury officers, residential college supervisors and youth custodial officers.

“These agreements will assist in budget repair, where everyone must share the burden, and deliver a more effective, efficient, and functional public sector,” Johnston said in a statement.

The union said the government agreed to “provide detailed information on the use of labour hire and fixed term contracts” in the public sector and develop “conversion to permanency criteria” for its non-ongoing staff.

There will also be a “requirement to fill vacancies with suitable displaced employees before engaging employees on fixed term contracts or labour hire arrangements” in the new deal, according to the CSA.

“Improved redundancy and redeployment provisions, including a comprehensive review of public sector redeployment and redundancy processes and stronger case management for displaced employees” are included as well.

There are provisions to keep an eye on whether public sector employees are overworked amid all the downsizing. Henceforth there will be “greater requirements to monitor workload and conduct workload surveys jointly with the union” and more consultation with staff on workplace changes, reports the CSA, which is the WA branch of the national Community and Public Sector Union.

“This is an agreement that makes gains on issues important to our members,” said assistant secretary Ricki Hendon.

“Their priority was always job security, fairer workloads and ensuring transparency in the public sector, and that is what this agreement delivers.”

The first $1000 pay rise is dated from June 13 this year and the second takes effect on the same date next year. Fresh negotiations start again in December, 2018.

The unusual decision to limit public sector payrises to a flat amount instead of a percentage will obviously provide bigger proportional increases to those on the lowest pay; this is how Premier Mark McGowan justified the policy in May.

UnionsWA acknowledged it would be a decent increase for “entry level clerical workers, education assistants, health support workers and others on lower incomes” but estimated the point of inflection would be about $70,000, arguing people on salaries above that would see their real income go down in terms of its buying power.