NSW Labor has announced that if successful in the March 23 state election, it will ditch public sector pay caps in favour of a bargaining framework that allows the IRC to grant productivity-based increases.
Shadow Labor Treasurer Ryan Park has pledged that if his party wins the election, it will overhaul the current bargaining framework for NSW public servants and ensure that the “independent umpire will set wages in NSW, not politicians”.
In a statement to Workplace Express, Park said a government led by Opposition Leader Michael Daley would “have a fair and balanced wages policy that restores the link between wages and productivity”, enabling public servants to “go to the [IRC] and argue their case for a pay rise if they can demonstrate productivity gains”.
Shadow IR Minister Adam Searle confirmed to Workplace Express, meanwhile, that Labor would “remove the legislated wages cap” and the alternative government would develop a “productivity framework for wages and bargaining” in consultation with stakeholders, Searle said.
Under the framework, if parties cannot agree on pay rises when public sector awards come up for renegotiation, he said they could approach the IRC to make their case on productivity grounds.
Maintaining that a Labor Government would not dictate any specific pay increases, Searle claimed the NSW Liberal-National Government’s 2.5% wages cap, which can be offset with employee-related savings, “has stifled creativity and productivity”.
He said the cap provided “no incentive” to employees or managers to find creative ways to deliver productivity improvements.
Searle also accused the Berejiklian Government of breaking its own wages cap with the recent 4% annual package offered to NSW rail workers and of “blowing its own framework” due to a 4% average growth in employee-related expenses over the past eight years.
He claimed that the NSW Government incurred the expenses-hike in part because it provided pay rises “well above the cap to already highly paid managers” and increasingly relied on labour hire, temp workers, casuals and consultants.
“When you do that, you pay a lot more,” Searle said, adding that a Labor Government “would have a preference for direct employment”.