West Australian Government belligerence over maintaining the state pay cap for its employees has convinced the RTBU WA PTA Branch to join forces with other public sector unions to take action on a united front.
The McGowan Government capped public sector pay rises at a maximum $1,000 a year in 2017, supposedly for four years.
But straight after winning power again this year - thanks in no small part to the support of the state’s unions - the McGowan Government is choosing to further extend the cap for another two years.
The RTBU and other unions say this betrayal effectively a six-year pay freeze, at a time the WA Government is running a $3 billion surplus.
The RTBU had been seeking a fair and reasonable pay rise, including the insertion of appropriate allowances to reflect the increased responsibilities for members due to the ever-expanding Metronet program.
WA PTA Secretary Josh Dekuyer said the Government’s policy, however, had removed the ability to conduct genuine enterprise bargaining.
“RTBU delegates and members worked very hard on negotiations,” Josh said.
“But while the subsequent enterprise agreements recently negotiated delivered a number of significant workplace gains, the $1,000 pay cap has left many members disillusioned with WA’s Labor Government.
“We’ve got a State Government that’s doing very well and has got one of the best economies in Australia, if not the world, on the back of the budget boost because of the booming iron ore price.
“Four years ago we reluctantly accepted that the state’s books were not great, but we believe we’ve played our part for all West Australians.
“We’ve worked through the uncertainties of the pandemic and now we want to go back to genuine enterprise bargaining.”
Josh said the RTBU had considered stronger action in an attempt to break the Government’s pay stranglehold, but had seen the cost borne by members in other unions that had tried to go it alone on that path.
“It became apparent that we have to do something collectively, that all public sector unions must act together,” he said.
“So we have joined the Public Sector Alliance, where we can be part of a collective movement in 2022.”
The Public Sector Alliance now includes the RTBU, UnionsWA, the United Workers’ Union, WA Prison Officers’ Union, State School Teachers’ Union WA, Health Services Union WA, United Professional Firefighters Union of WA, and Professionals Australia.
Alliance unions cover more than 100,000 state public sector employees.
It is promising a united campaign - a “Blue in ‘22” - to end the restrictive public sector wages policy, force a return to genuine enterprise bargaining in the public sector; and secure outcomes that represent a meaningful investment in public sector workers.
The Alliance says its members will use all their resources, political, industrial or organisational, to secure a successful outcome for all Alliance unions in the 2022 rounds of bargaining.
Member unions will also communicate any offer made to them with all other parties to the Alliance prior to the balloting members, and no Alliance union will endorse any offer that does not secure a deal better than the current restrictive $1,000 a year cap.