Unions combine to fight back against Tasmanian Liberals’ 2% wages offer

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian Branch (ANMF), Australian Education Union (AEU), Health and Community Services Union (HACSU), Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), United Voice, and the United Firefighters Union – Tasmania Branch (UFU) have united to reject the Tasmanian government’s 2% wage offer, which was put to unions yesterday in negotiations.

This uncompromising unity follows mounting evidence that Tasmanian workers’ wages are continuing to fall below the cost of living. Leading economists support the position that Tasmanians, like all Australians, need a pay rise.

Workers have accepted seven years of wages restraint in an incredible show of good faith towards the government while pressure has only continued to increase on public services like hospitals, schools, emergency services and Service Tasmania. Yesterday’s offer, although not surprising, confirms what workers have known for some time: the Hodgman Government, including Treasurer Peter Gutwein, has never intended to negotiate with workers at all. The message yesterday was “take it or leave it!” and Tasmanian workers will not cop this approach to ‘negotiation’ any more.

All public sector unions have committed to supporting their members to undertake industrial action until the Tasmanian government is willing to negotiate with public sector workers for a decent wage rise, which Tasmania desperately needs. Conversations with workers on this ridiculous, callous and completely unacceptable wages offer will commence immediately.

The time is right for Tasmanian public sector workers to have a pay rise of over 2%, which has not occurred since 2011. Tasmanians need a pay rise.
Quotes from public sector unions:
Tim Jacobson, State Secretary of HACSU, said today, “Tasmanians well understand the increasing pressure which has been mounting across our health system in recent years. Workers have put in the hard yards and they know things will remain tough on that front for a while yet. The very least the Government can do for those workers is to recognise that hard work with a decent pay offer.”

Roz Madsen, AEU State Manager, said, “Such a poor wage offer shows no respect for education workers in our public schools and TAFE. A 2% wage increase will ensure Tasmanian teachers remain the lowest paid in Australia and will do nothing to assist with the recruitment and retention of teachers and principals. For low paid workers like Teacher Assistants who don’t even get paid for 52 weeks of the year and often have to turn to Centrelink to assistance, the offer is disrespectful.”

Emily Shepherd, ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary, stated that, “Nurses and midwives are incredibly concerned about the impact that being the lowest paid in the country will have on recruitment and retention and what this will mean for the sustainability of the nursing and midwifery professions in Tasmania.”

Tom Lynch, CPSU General Secretary, stated, “With living costs rising faster than wages many Tasmanian families can’t make ends meet. All Tasmanians need a real wage rise but the Hodgman government’s 2% cap is holding down wages for the whole community. “

Jannette Armstrong, Secretary of United Voice Tasmania, said, “United Voice public sector workers do incredibly important work to keep our schools clean and hygienic, and our communities safe. Most are not highly paid – in fact, most earn significantly less than the Australian, and even Tasmanian average salaries. A fair and decent pay rise for these workers is long overdue.”

Leigh Hills, UFU Vice President, said, “Over the past six years, the 2% wage cap has resulted in wages for those who protect our community going backwards in real terms. This is on top of insufficient staffing levels and increased workloads. It’s time the government took the hand brake off wages and remunerated those who serve our community appropriately.”
Emily Shepherd, Tim Jacobson, Tom Lynch, Roz Madsen, Leigh Hills, Jannette Armstrong