NSW public service workers strike over payrise offer as prison officers, Service NSW walk off job

Thousands of workers warn NSW premier he’s about to be met with ‘fierce resistance’ as they walk off the job after government promises ‘pure political’ payrise

  •  Thousands of NSW public service workers are striking on Wednesday
  • Prison officers, Service NSW workers among 30,000 to stop work  
  •  Members want a 5.4 per cent payrise from the state government

Thousands of NSW public service workers are on strike after a promised payrise failed to satisfy unions.

About 30,000 Public Service Association (PSA) members ranging from prison officers, park rangers, school support staff, ServiceNSW workers, and civilian police employees are striking for 24-hours and will rally outside NSW parliament on Wednesday.

Other demonstrations will be held around the state in Bathurst, Dubbo, Grafton, Newcastle, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga.

The strike comes after the PSA gave an ultimatum to the government last week to commit to a 5.4 per cent pay rise by Monday.

Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a 2.5 per cent annual cap on public sector wage rises would be increased to three per cent next financial year, and 3.5 per cent the following year, depending on productivity gains.

Premier Dominic Perrottet (centre) has been warned by the union to increase their payrise

Premier Dominic Perrottet (centre) has been warned by the union to increase their payrise 

The government also announced frontline health staff would receive a $3000 payment in recognition of their work during the pandemic.

PSA general secretary Stewart Little said with inflation running at 5.1 per cent the wage rise represented a pay cut in real terms.

‘This offer is pure politics – moving half a per cent and playing silly games with one-off bonuses for certain workers,’ Mr Little said.

‘If the premier is going to insist that workers deserve a pay cut he’s going to meet fierce resistance.’

The proposal to give frontline health staff a $3000 bonus has been widely supported, but there has been criticism teachers, police, departmental health staff and other public service workers will get nothing.

Opposition industrial relations spokeswoman Sophie Cotsis said the government appeared to be pitting workers against each other.

‘The government must answer why it has not extended the same praise and reward to other important essential workers who have kept the community going through this pandemic,’ Ms Cotsis said on Tuesday.

Prison officers will make up some of the 30,000 people walking off the job on Wednesday

Prison officers will make up some of the 30,000 people walking off the job on Wednesday

Unions have called for the wages cap to be raised further to at least reflect the rate of inflation, while some want the cap abolished altogether.

The 2.5 per cent wage cap has been in place since 2011, a period when inflation was mostly lower than that.

Labor has also been pushing for changes to the bargaining process between unions and the government.

Opposition Leader Chris Minns said on Monday the system is ‘fundamentally broken’.

Mr Perrottet said on Tuesday the wage caps had ensured industrial peace for the better part of a decade.

‘What Labor is arguing for is going back to a system without a cap that provided the union bosses control,’ Mr Perrottet said.

‘Before we brought the cap in, the wages bill in NSW ate the entire budget … the state was broke.’


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