Union threat over public service pay freezes

 

THE Palaszczuk Government will legislate its contentious public servants wage freeze, setting them on a potential collision course with unions heading into an election.

The freeze will come into effect from next month and last for one year, but staff won't miss out on promised wages.

But Together Union secretary Alex Scott last night savaged the legislation, telling The Courier-Mail it would be an election issue.

"Successive governments have been punished for their treatment of the public sector in the past," he said.

"We see no reason why that wouldn't be a case this year."

 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images

 

The deferral will come into effect from July 1 and extend until June 30, 2021, with staff to then receive their promised increase six months after the date stipulated in the agreement.

This means for teachers, who were set to pocket 2.5 per cent next month, will receive 2.5 per cent in July next year and 2.5 per cent again in January 2022.

All staff who have not received an increase during 2019 because bargains have not been resolved will receive 2.5 per cent, which will be backdated to the 2019 date of the agreement.

The legislation follows months of speculation around how the Government would enact it, which Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk first announced in April.

 

Together Union secretary Alex Scott said the freeze was “appalling”. Picture: Sarah Marshall
Together Union secretary Alex Scott said the freeze was “appalling”. Picture: Sarah Marshall

 

It had been spruiked as a freeze to save $500 million, however, Ms Palaszczuk yesterday revealed it was about making sure the Government had the money in the financial year when they "need it the most, which is now".

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace told Parliament the Government had taken the necessary time to sort through the detail of how it would "work in a fair, consistent and equitable manner".

However, Mr Scott told The Courier-Mail it was appalling on three levels.

"First from an economic point of view, the road to recovery in Queensland is about getting more money into the economy," he said.

"Secondly, we think it's ­appalling to override collectively bargained outcomes with legislation.

"Thirdly, we think it's an ­appalling process in that we've been negotiating with government for two and a half months so why is legislation tabled late on a Tuesday afternoon?"

Queensland Council of ­Unions general secretary ­Michael Clifford told The Courier-Mail unions had argued against a freeze.

"We are concerned about the use of legislation to impose deferrals," he said.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said the union would ballot members on three options next term, including strikes.

"We'd prefer the agreement was honoured," he said.

Greens MP Michael Berkman said it was a "deeply cynical and hypocritical move" by the Government to "sneak" the freeze into the Portable Long Service Leave Bill.

Originally published as Union threat over public service pay freezes


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