The government is attacking workers wages, workers rights, and also wants to end the right to protest!
Your rights– now and into the future – are at stake.
Premier Hodgman, Treasurer Gutwein and their cabinet colleagues have chosen a shameful abuse of legislative powers to over-ride your State Service Agreements and Awards. A government that changes the law to breach contracts can’t be trusted.
This is despite the fact that the majority of Tasmania’s state service workers have already agreed to 6 years of wage restraint of 2% or less. There has been a consistent reduction in the workforce amounting to thousands of jobs lost, while demand for services grows constantly.
Your Union hasn’t been briefed in any meaningful way by Government, but we understand the following:
Cabinet will reduce all headline salary increases to 0% for a period of 12 months from the enactment of legislation.
The wage increases that were agreed to were;
2% for employees, or $1000 for those on the lowest classifications, per annum AND
a .5% increase from Dec 2014 for those at the top of levels, AND
a 1% increase from Dec 2015 for those at the top of levels, up to a maximum of $750 per annum.
Cabinet has further determined it will freeze any incremental progression and performance-based upgrades.
The government will stop workers from meaningfully bargaining for wages after the one year pay and increment freeze. This appears to apply in perpetuity. That means forever!
The government will introduce two separate Bills to achieve its objectives. One creates a new statute to over-ride the current negotiated and agreed salary increases and increments and the other will amend the Industrial Relations Act 1984 to render bargaining on wages meaningless.
The government aims to have the Bills through both houses of parliament by October.
Know that you have the support of the ACTU National Executive, and other state and national unions:
“The ACTU National Executive condemns the Tasmanian Liberal Government for its decision today to freeze the wages of Tasmanian public sector workers. The proposed wage freeze amounts to a real wage cut for over 26,000 workers. This unilateral move undermines the legitimate industrial relations system which is in place, and is an abuse of the power and responsibility of the government. The ACTU will work with affiliates to defend the bargaining rights of Tasmanian workers from this ideological and misguided attack.”
The wage ‘freeze’ is a cut in real terms, and halts on incremental progressions will hit lower income earners hardest. It’s fine for Mr Hodgman, Mr Gutwein and their colleagues to crow about freezing their own wages but freezing a six-figure salary doesn’t sting the way cutting real wages of workers on low and average incomes does. Life is getting more expensive, not less, so any talk of ‘freezes’ or ‘pauses’ should be replaced with the truth – these are wage cuts.
This is an attack on the democratic rights of working people to have a say on their wages and enter into binding agreements with their employer. If successful in getting through the Legislative Council, the legacy will be the removal of the ability to bargain for wage increases, as government policy alone will dictate increases. In addition the Tasmanian Industrial Commission will be limited to only making wage decisions that agree with government policy. This undermines well established industrial and legal norms and is an abuse of power. What happened to democracy?
There is no guarantee or commitment from Government that these vicious measures will save even one job. In his message posted on departmental intranets the Treasurer says “Given the choice of either implementing a one year pay pause or losing 500 jobs, the Liberal Government has chosen to save these jobs”. This is misleading. In direct response to a question the Treasurer categorically refused to guarantee that any jobs will be saved. Despite his rhetoric, the Treasurer has refused to commit the government to the number of jobs that will be saved.
The government has no desire to work with unions and workers. Mr Gutwein is indulging in spin when he says “The very clear choice for unions is whether or not they want to work with us to save 500 of their members' jobs”. If the government wanted to enact a wage ‘freeze’ to save jobs it could’ve negotiated that outcome and sought to have agreements and awards varied with the consent of workers and unions. It didn’t pursue that path.
This will undermine our economy. Tasmania’s business community should also be very concerned by the Liberal government’s decision. Consumer confidence within Tasmania’s single biggest workforce will plummet as a result of the wage freeze and job losses. This has a serious effect on our fragile economy and will hamper, not encourage, any recovery.
This is not a ‘common measure’. Regarding the wage ‘freeze’ Mr Gutwein said “This is a common measure employed across the private sector, in small business and some of the state’s largest ¬employers…”. This is deliberately misleading. Wage restraint is common across all industries when prevailing conditions make it a sensible approach. However this is achieved through the normal bargaining and agreement making processes - not through over-riding laws and existing contracts. The private sector can’t enter into an agreement with their workers and then legislate to break it. Small business can’t either.
We’re exploring all legal options to challenge the legislation and we’ll lobby the Legislative Council on the Bills that this government intends to introduce.
The Liberal Government has also introduced anti-protest legislation into state parliament and it has passed the Lower House. The legislation seeks to stop reasonable forms of protest is described as draconian legislation and opposed by civilian liberty groups, lawyers, environment groups and unions.
What we understand so far about the impact of the new legislation:
New penalties include $10,000 on-the-spot fines and 3-month mandatory jail terms for “disrupting workplaces”.
A person complaining in a shopping centre could be arrested!
The NSCOP Rally at the TCCI, the Tony Abbott Gonski rally and March in March demonstration would be illegal and we could have all been arrested!
We’re seeking legal advice about the implications of this legislation and what it could mean for members and activities in workplaces.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
It’s critical we protect our bargaining system and we all need to make it very clear that Mr Hodgman’s government has gone way too far in pursuing an ideological agenda that disempowers workers and demonises their unions.
Encourage friends , family and co-workers to attend the rally.
Sign a pledge saying you will support the rally.
Come to the Bust the Budget rally on Budget Day, 28 August & 4th September 2014
Wear a rally sticker as a sign of solidarity on the day.