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PS unions say Gallagher broke pledge

CPSU ACT secretary Vince McDevitt.

CPSU ACT secretary Vince McDevitt. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Unions have accused the ACT Labor government of breaking an election promise to the territory's 20,000 public servants.

The ACT government has asked workers to accept a 2 per cent a year wage increase for four years.

The Community and Public Sector Union says the amount is a ''pay cut in real terms'' and worse than any wage offer from conservative governments in other states and territories.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher. Photo: Rohan Thomson

ACT regional secretary Vince McDevitt said the government had also broken its election commitment to start wage negotiations as soon as possible after last year's election.

He said negotiations would start on June 4, coinciding with the ACT budget, while the existing agreement was due to expire on June 30.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher's office said on Thursday claims the government had broken a promise to workers were false.

In a letter to Mr McDevitt this week outlining the pay offer, the Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate said it ''was prudent for the ACT government to be restrained in its spending'' due to federal ''fiscal consolidation'' and the forthcoming federal election.

Last month, the Chief Minister recommended the territory's MLAs also accept a pay freeze this financial year due to economic conditions.

But Mr McDevitt said ACT public servants had been ''shafted'' and accused the government of delaying the start of negotiations to ensure the ''inferior offer'' was drowned out by the budget.

''This once again sets the stage for a greatly delayed process with a really modest outcome,'' he said.

He said conservative governments in NSW, Victoria and the Northern Territory had offered increases of 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent.

An offer of 2.35 per cent from Campbell Newman's government in Queensland was rejected by public servants in that state.

''What is surprising here is their behaviour and the position they've adopted is far worse than the conservatives around the country,'' he said.

''The only thing they're missing is the job cuts and god knows what's going to be in the budget.

''They're unreasonably restraining wages to the extent that our workers are being offered a pay cut because their salaries won't grow as much as inflation.''

Unions ACT secretary Kim Sattler had no doubt union members would vote down the pay offer unless it was increased.

''We actually prepared them for a bad outcome that was better than this,'' Ms Sattler said. ''What's been offered by McDonald's is better than this.''

Ms Gallagher described the increase as reasonable, saying the ACT Government had always given what it could afford.

“Two per cent is what the budget can withstand without seeking any trade off from our employees,” she said.

“We’re not looking to downsize the public service. In fact, over the next government, we’ll be looking to increase numbers in the public service.”

Speaking on ABC Radio, Ms Gallagher said the suggested increase of 3 per cent was not feasible without further impacting on the service.

“If there has to be a higher pay outcome, then we need to find that money from within the existing appropriations,” she said.

“Every 1 per cent is about $20 million to the budget."

A spokeswoman for Ms Gallagher further stated that claims the government had broken an election promise on the timing of negotiations were false.

''The ACT government has been in discussions with the unions since before Christmas,'' she said.

23 comments

  • Think of the UK Civil Service with a pay freeze for several years now. And remember the APS of the 90s when pay increases were irregular to say the least.

    2% is an insult but part of me feels these annual increases are unsustainable and have contributed to the very high cost of living in this town/country. But I won't be saying no to mine when 1 July rolls around.

    Commenter
    Outraged of Palmerston
    Date and time
    May 24, 2013, 7:15AM
    • This offer shows the Government is taking it's staff for granted - when the Labor team got in they had to play catch up because of similar tactics by the Liberals in the 90's. A 2% rise is insulting in itself, but to make it fixed for 4 years is even worse. we are already several thousand behind federal government equivalents, and this will mean the chasm gets bigger.

      Commenter
      taken for granted
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      May 24, 2013, 7:44AM
      • what did you expect? Part of their role is to make promises that they cant keep. How else do they get voted in?

        Commenter
        Mud Flap
        Location
        real time
        Date and time
        May 24, 2013, 7:44AM
        • Sharron, they were not voted in, they sucked up to a """just made it over the line""" green and hence we are blessed with ACT GREEN LABOR.

          Commenter
          NITRO GANGSTER
          Location
          ACT
          Date and time
          May 24, 2013, 9:05AM
        • Quite right Nitro Gangster, and this local Gallagher council is a joke! A lot like the Gillard Gang.

          Commenter
          Sharron
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          May 24, 2013, 10:24AM
      • Serve yourselves right for backing Gallagher in the election.

        Commenter
        Sharron
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        May 24, 2013, 8:28AM
        • Seriously Sharron, do you really believe that the offer would have been better had the people elected Mr Seselja?
          I'm not sure that Ms Gallagher (nor the Libs) actually have the capacity to construct a budget without knowing the results of and the impact of the Commonwealth election in September. When Mr Howard was elected, the ACT economy was thrown into recession. Unions aren't going to agree to 2% for 4 years. It's just too long. If I were Treasurer, I would offer a 12 mth agreement of 3%, which the Unions would probably accept and then yearly agreements until there became more certainty around the territories finances.

          Commenter
          Rod
          Date and time
          May 24, 2013, 1:56PM
      • 20,000 public servants to run the ACT? That's about 15,000 too many, and to think their union thinks a 2% wage rise isn't enough - unbelievable, where is the money coming from, oh that's right the taxpayer!

        Commenter
        ex-Baron-of-Bruce
        Date and time
        May 24, 2013, 8:46AM
        • Another well thought out comment..............

          Commenter
          XR
          Date and time
          May 24, 2013, 10:44AM
      • Public servants are paid on par with pirvate sector and in some cases more and without the risk (don't cry foul - flex is something no private industry person gets). Embedded in the agreements is an almost impossible mechanism to manage non-performing staff - that is it becomes management responsibility to train, counsel, train some more then justify to the unions why a someone who is unwilling or incapable is not performing (this takes a number of months and at a high cost), then there is the provision that you should be in effect bribed to leave the service - otherwise known as a redundancy payout. These provisions are not found in the private sector, and yes not all public servants take advantage of the system, but ask yourself how many do and why should the community pay for this? Where is the sense of responsibility. A 2% increase is better than none. Political promises are made on the best information available. Things have changed, the global economy is ill and the Australian economy is not feeling so well. Good on you Katy for having the balls to do what is right not what is political. Perhaps more of your decisions should be based on this.

        Commenter
        RD
        Date and time
        May 24, 2013, 8:48AM

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