Treasurer's comments devalue the public sector

Treasurer's comments devalue the public sector

CPSU/CSA State Secretary Rikki Hendon has come out strongly against today’s indication by Treasurer Ben Wyatt that he will freeze public sector wages in WA.

During this time of crisis and beyond as the state begins to recover socially and economically, Government should respect the contribution of public sector workers.
“Public sector workers are delivering the state's COVID response in our community. They have provided stability and support for all Western Australian’s through this crisis."
"People working in Corrections, Child Protection, Housing, Education, Health and beyond have shared risk to their own health to continue delivering the services we rely on.”
Just yesterday the Premier publicly acknowledged the public servants who had worked ‘feverishly’ to prepare the legislation and regulations required to respond to the crisis

For the Treasurer to then turn around and float a wage freeze is disappointing.
The Union is also concerned about what this proposal indicates about Government’s plan for economic recovery.

“Our members are working around the clock to prepare this state for the economic recovery from COVID-19. As we move out of this crisis a restrictive approach to public sector spending does not make sense.”
“Many of our members are fortunate to have secure employment throughout this period. However, as we see extensive private-sector job losses, they are increasingly the only earner in their household and the sole-income spending in their communities, keeping local economies afloat.”
“Restricting their income will stifle local economies at exactly the time we need spending to induce recovery.”
“I am optimistic that the Treasurer has left the door open for further discussion. CPSU/CSA members will continue to work for all Western Australian’s and to push for a stimulus-driven response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Coronavirus crisis: WA's public servants should shoulder some of state's economic burden, says Treasurer Ben Wyatt

The COVID-19 crisis has all but scuttled the prospects of a significant pay rise for public sector workers, who have already endured three years of the McGowan Government’s $1000 wage cap.

And even next year’s increase — due in July 2021 — is in doubt, with Treasurer Ben Wyatt conceding the budget was straining under the pressure of absorbing the devastating economic fallout from the virus.

“We’ve been fairly clear with our four-year commitment to the wages policy but clearly the finances and the economy is under significant pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“Any new wages policy will reflect these circumstances we’re in.”

After reversing his decision to retire at the next election out of a desire to help guide WA’s economic response to the crisis, Mr Wyatt indicated it was likely government employees would be forced to shoulder some of the burden.

“We’ll look at the wages policy again, but I’ll make this point, this is an environment where many people have lost their jobs, many people have had significant pay cuts, having a secure job is worth its weight in gold,” Mr Wyatt said.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has recommended to Premier Gladys Berejiklian the state's public servants go without pay rises for 12 months, with an exemption for frontline health workers.

I think West Australians and Australians over the next few months are going to see our employment and economic growth assumptions in figures they have perhaps not seen in their lifetimes.

The Commonwealth Government will also push back wage rises for its public servants by six months and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today that she, her ministers and public service chief executives would all take 20 per cent pay cuts for half a year.

The forced closure of businesses like bars, restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues means thousands of West Australians have lost their jobs in the past month, with Australian Bureau of Statistics unemployment figures slated for release tomorrow expected to quantify the exact number of people sent to the breadline in March.

Mr Wyatt said he was bracing for the worst.

“There’ll be alarming figures I suspect for the next few months,” he said.

I think West Australians and Australians over the next few months are going to see our employment and economic growth assumptions in figures they have perhaps not seen in their lifetimes.

“We’ve seen that with the (International Monetary Fund) overnight, with some of their expectations around the Australian economy (a forecast 6.7 per cent contraction in 2020) and global economy much more dramatic than the impacts of the global financial crisis.”

In December, before the world had heard of COVID-19, WA was on track for a $2.5 billion surplus and Mr Wyatt said the state’s strong financial position provided a degree of flexibility in the government’s response to reviving the economy — including immediate stimulus measures designed to cushion the economic blow.

“We are in an environment where we’re… effectively in a spending profile, let’s be honest, around trying to ensure that our businesses and households can hibernate over the next little while and come out the other side of the coronavirus in a way they can respond,” he said.

“It’s the principle of shared pain. Everyone is feeling the pain of the coronavirus but that also means that going forward we need to ensure we maintain strong financial management around expense and make sure our spending is targeted and effective.”

Source: Josh Zimmerman

Related: Union members win COVID-19 leave for isolation