Union protests. Photo: Paul Jones
The union representing ACT government engineers and project managers is preparing to take industrial action over the government's pay offer to public servants.
While most unions are expected to accept the improved offer the government made to its workforce last month, the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia, says the government's remuneration of engineers is does not match other jurisdictions.
The association is applying for protected-action ballots for its workforce, which is divided into a small group of medical physicists at Canberra Hospital and a larger group of about 80-100 engineers and managers working for several ACT government directorates.
The government said it was still confident an agreement with the union would be reached. It first offered public servants a pay rise of 2 per cent a year for four years. That was revised last month to 2 per cent, or a flat increase of $2090, in the first year and 3 per cent for each of the following years.
Nurses negotiated with the government to receive 3 per cent or $2550 in the first year.
APESMA ACT branch director David Smith said the offer was not acceptable because territory engineers received lower salaries than those in other states.
"The government did its own review of employment classifications, which found engineers and project managers were underpaid and not competitive with other jurisdictions," he said.
"They're just not addressing that issue. The general offer in the first year is not acceptable because it is less than CPI [price index]."
Mr Smith said protected-action ballots for medical physicists had been approved by the Fair Work Commission and would start this week. The application for a ballot for engineers and managers would be considered this week by the commission.
"The ACT government hasn't adequately addressed the issues raised by engineers and project managers," he said. "We want the government to remove individual-agreement arrangements and provide fair, transparent and competitive pay structures."
ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr said negotiations with the union were positive. "Discussions have been productive to date and government representatives will be meeting with APESMA this week," he said.