Public sector workers in Western Australia are set to go ahead with a major rally despite receiving the offer of a better pay deal.
The WA government has increased its wage offer for 150,000 workers to three per cent annually over the next two years, up from 2.75 per cent, along with an additional $2500 sign-on bonus.
Premier Mark McGowan on Sunday said the move was in response to rising inflation and cost-of-living pressures and would cost the state budget an extra $634 million over the next four years.
Unions representing police officers, firefighters, prison officers, teachers, child protection, health and other public sector workers met on Tuesday and resolved to proceed with a protest outside Parliament House in Perth on August 17.
Unions WA secretary Owen Whittle said while the revised offer was welcomed, it did not adequately offset rising inflation.
“The improved offer may be approved by some groups of union members as the one-off payment does deliver benefits to low wage public sector workers, but for other workers it continues real wage cuts in the second year of the agreement,” he said on Wednesday.
“There’s a serious problem in the second year when the one-off payment … is long gone and the three per cent rise fails to keep pace with inflation.
“Our rally will be going ahead on Wednesday 17th August to send a clear signal to government – treat your workforce with respect.”
The pay rise will immediately flow through to workforces that have already accepted the state government’s previous offer, including teachers and public hospital doctors.
Perth’s consumer price index jumped 1.7 per cent in the June quarter, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released last week, pushing its annual inflation rate well above the national average to 7.4 per cent.
WA banked a $5.7 billion surplus in this year’s state budget, but the premier insists the new policy is his final offer.
“This is designed to ensure that there is fairness across the board and the public sector … is properly rewarded in the environment that we are in,” Mr McGowan said this week.
“We have provided something that no other state has, which is the across the board sign-on bonus.”
Health workers were also set to hold a stop-work meeting outside Perth’s Fiona Stanley Hospital on Wednesday.