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Police union rejects pay deal for WA auxiliary officers as industrial unrest looms

The West Australian Government is facing the prospect of widespread industrial unrest in the lead up to next year's state election, with one public sector union refusing its "miserly" pay offer and others expected to do the same.

The WA Police Union (WAPU), acting on behalf of the state's 200 police auxiliary officers, has rejected the Government's offer of a 1.5 per cent pay rise for each of the next two years.

Instead, WAPU has asked for increases of 1.75 per cent and 2.25 per cent, in line with Perth's projected CPI according to the 2016-17 state budget.

WAPU president George Tilbury said the Government's 2016 wages policy, which caps increases at 1.5 per cent per annum, was draconian and completely unacceptable to his members.

"This is clearly a dictatorship. We want it to be a negotiation," he said.

"What worker is going to accept a pay rise in the government sector that is less than CPI? That is not fair, nor is it reasonable.

"Auxiliary officers assist police officers ... they're dealing with the worst of the worst that you could imagine and they deserve to at least be compensated for the projected CPI."

Mr Tilbury said the issue needed to be resolved urgently because the current agreement expired on June 30.

Under the Government's wages policy, there is no entitlement to back pay if replacement agreements are not reached before the old ones expire.

Mr Tilbury said if the Government did not return with a "fair and reasonable" offer, auxiliary police officers would consider industrial action.

"They could bring the lock up to a grinding halt for a start, particularly if they decided there was only so many people they were going to take at any particular time, and that would then have a backlog effect for police officers. You'd effectively see vans outside the lock up banked up," he said.

KEY POINTS

  • 1.5 per cent pay rise for auxiliary police officers rejected
  • WA Police Union threatens industrial action
  • Government has 19 public sector deals to finalise before election

Talks with nurses 'haven't really started'

The Government has 19 public sector industrial agreements to finalise before the March 17 election.

One of those is with the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF), which notoriously drove a hard bargain in the days before the 2013 state election, helping it secure a 14 per cent pay rise over three years for its 15,000 members.

Despite the Government's agreement with the ANF expiring on June 30, the Health Minister John Day said negotiations "haven't really started".

The ANF has repeatedly refused to provide any information to the ABC about its log of claims for nurses, including the size of the pay rise it is seeking.

Mr Day said he would be disappointed if the ANF was deliberately stalling to drag out negotiations right up to the election.

The replacement agreement for public hospital doctors will also be difficult to resolve, with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) asking for increases over three years of 2 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent — significantly more than the Government's policy.

Government needs to tighten belt: minister

Commerce Minister Michael Mischin said while WA public servants had been treated generously in recent years, the Government now had to reduce spending.

"The state wage policy has been set in light of the current financial circumstances that the state is facing," he said.

"Many of the projections for CPI increases have proved to be in excess of what CPI was, so our public servants are among the best if not the best paid in Australia.

"They've benefitted from the good times, unfortunately we all have to tighten our belts now during the bad times and there are people in WA who are losing their jobs or who are taking pay cuts in order to retain their jobs.

"I'm hopeful that the unions who represent public sector employees will be responsible in their approach to this, and to realise that we're doing the best we can with what we've got until circumstances change."

The Government has reached in-principle agreement with the WA Prison Officers' Union for 1.5 per cent per year increases for DCS prison officers.

It is also expected to reach a similar agreement later this week with the Health Services Union for salaried health workers.

Source: abc.net.au

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