WA public servants set to escalate industrial action
by Michelle Cohen and Richard Titelius More than 2000 public servants rallied in Perth, Albany and Bunbury on September 17 in support of the Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association's (CPSU/CSA) rejection of the State Government's three percent across-the-board pay proposal. Unions WA Secretary Stephanie Mayman and Assistant Secretary Dave Robinson were amongst those who offered their support to the CPSU/CSA membership at a mass meeting at the Perth Concert Hall on September 17. They were joined by the State School Teachers of WA (SSTUWA) General Secretary David Kelly, Senior Vice President Mike Keely, and Vice President Anne Gisborne. The teachers' officials had come from a half-day work stoppage and mass rally of members earlier that day. Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union Secretary Dave Kelly, and Dan Hill from the Hospital Salaried Officers Association also offered their support at the CPSU/CSA meeting. The General Agreement for West Australia's 29,000 public servants expires on January 1, 2004. The union is demanding a wage increase comprising a 12 per cent parity payment and $5502 on January 1, 2004, 10 per cent on January 1, 2005 and $6680 on January 1, 2006. The claim also seeks to address issues of workloads and working hours through the establishment of processes to establish the parameters of a reasonable workload. Other demands include: * restoration of members' access to the Industrial Relations Commission; * reinstatement of selection processes based on merit; * enhanced shift, study leave and parental leave provisions; * a review of the methodologies used to define classification levels; * defining and limiting the circumstances where jobs can be filled on contract; * transmission of business and outsourcing protocols. Addressing the meeting, State Secretary of the CPSU/CSA Toni Walkington, said that the union was not seeking a predetermined outcome from the government, but a genuine response to their claim. The nine percent over three years being offered in reality costs the government only six percent, as one percent from each year is funded by savings from the budgets of government agencies themselves. Funding of pay increases in this manner will inevitably lead to further cuts to members' jobs and services. It will force remaining staff to work harder and longer hours. Given that average weekly earnings in Australia rose by 6.3 per cent in 2002/2003 the CPSU/CSA's claim of approximately 27 per cent is not an unrealistic one. Ms Walkington warned that failure to adequately fund government infrastructure and employees would result in more strain being placed on the community, in further environmental mishaps such as Brookdale and Bellevue, longer queues for the sick and injured at public hospitals, a higher number of prison escapes and the revolving door syndrome in the criminal justice system. Members unanimously passed resolutions: 1) Expressing deep concern that the Government's wages policy does not deliver equal pay in the sector, and fails to deliver a fair wages outcome for all members. 2) Setting a deadline of Thursday September 25 for the State Government to provide an offer to the Union that properly address wages and conditions issues. 3) Calling on the Government to honour its pre-election commitment to restore members' industrial rights and welcoming the government's decision to announce a review of the Public Sector Management Act. 4) Authorising the "CPSU/CSA Wages Campaign Committee" to issue directions to members to engage in any or all of the following activities if the deadline is not met or if any offer made is not satisfactory: a) ban unpaid overtime and time beyond ordinary hours; b) ban all overtime (both paid and unpaid); c) decline to submit statistical and management information, including Business Activity Statements; d) refuse to process revenue payments; e) refuse to collect payments for services to the public and community; f) decline to process Ministerial correspondence; g) call workplace, regional and sector wide stoppages, stop work meetings; h) call rolling stoppages; i) any other action. 5) Authorising members not to take action against other members, that any action taken against an individual member by an agency or Government be seen as an action by Government against the Union and all its members. In the meantime, Premier Gallop has intervened in negotiations with the police who are believed to have won their 15 percent pay rise over three years. Gallop may well need the police in the months ahead as public servants and teachers are set to escalate industrial action. Teachers are seeking a 30 percent pay rise over three years.