Fight brews over health wages
The State Government is facing a challenge from health workers over its revised wages policy of 1.5 per cent a year.
The Australian Medical Association WA has already lodged its next wages claim, which is believed to ask 2.5 per cent a year for three years.
The Australian Nursing Federation said yesterday it would survey its members but was unlikely to accept a 1.5 per cent rise.
The doctors’ claim was served on the Government on March 3, one week after Treasurer Mike Nahan announced the revised wages policy of 1.5 per cent for the public sector’s 140,000 workers.
Dr Nahan said it was in line with Treasury’s forecast consumer price index of 1.5 per cent in 2015-16 and applied to all industrial agreements expiring from June 1.
AMA WA president Michael Gannon said its negotiations were confidential but the claim had been mostly prepared when the wages policy was still 2.5 per cent.
He would not be drawn on whether doctors would accept 1.5 per cent but said the AMA recognised the tight fiscal climate.
“It is not the time for largesse but equally we will defend the conditions and pay of our members,” Dr Gannon said.
“But there are also more to negotiations than salary increases.”
ANF State secretary Mark Olson said the Government’s midyear financial statement had predicted WA’s cost of living would rise 2 per cent in 2016-17 and 2.5 per cent a year after that and its wages policy should reflect the figures.
“We’re waiting to see the very latest credible economic projections, given our agreement starts next financial year not now, and that way our members get a fair deal which also responsibly considers WA’s economic future,” he said.
“Our agreement will be upfront, unlike the sneaky rise parliamentarians just received through a juicy 3 per cent superannuation increase, on top of their 1.5 per cent pay rise.”
Dr Nahan said the WA health sector was one of the highest paid and its wages growth was above those of other States and government sectors.
“Our CPI softened in annual average terms in the March quarter 2016, increasing by 1.1 per cent,” he said.
“This revised wages policy is reasonable and appropriate in the current fiscal environment.”