Minns Labor Government outlines NSW public sector fair pay policy
NSW Public Sector wages are poised to increase by 4.5% (comprising a 4% pay rise and 0.5 percentage point superannuation increase) in the first step to resolving the state’s essential worker recruitment and retention crisis after 12 years of Liberal-National wage suppression.
Accompanying the wage offer is the establishment of an Industrial Relations Taskforce, to be led by former Deputy President of the Fair Work Commission Anna Booth and former President of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission Roger Boland.
The taskforce will bring workers, their unions and government agencies together to create a new cooperative interest-based approach overseen by the Industrial Relations Commission.
The wage offer will allow for pay rises for most workers from 1 July 2023, while the taskforce implements a modern industrial relations framework to replace the former government’s punitive wages cap.
Under the former government, wages were slated to increase by only 2.5% and the 0.5% superannuation increase. Excluding super, the new pay offer is 60% higher than the Coalition’s plan (2.5% to 4%).
The proposed increase to pay and superannuation for essential workers is estimated to impact the NSW Budget by $618 million for 2023-24. Essential services across the state have been given certainty with the pay offer and creation of the IR Taskforce, which were announced this morning by Treasurer Daniel Mookhey and Minister for Industrial Relations Sophie Cotsis.
Mr Mookhey said the offer is a step towards a key government promise to fairly pay the teachers, school support staff, prison officers, paramedics, police, hospital staff and other workers on whom the entire state relies, while detailing the path to abolishing the wages cap.
The taskforce will conduct its work with a view to:
- Adding a new, more consultative interest-based bargaining stream to allow frontline workers and their representatives to engage with government agencies to identify savings and productivity gains in exchange for pay increases.
- Ensuring the Industrial Relations Commission is independent, properly resourced and with real powers to prevent and settle industrial disputes.
- Review the scope of the commission to address and resolve work health and safety issues or related workplace matters within the state jurisdiction.
The proposed 1-year pay deal will be in place while the taskforce goes about its work. The taskforce will report back to enable the government to modernise the state’s industrial relations system before the end of the year.
Today's announcement supports improved service delivery by addressing staff vacancies and is supported by savings being identified through the ongoing Comprehensive Expenditure Review, including reforms to:
- return-to-work policy
- labour hire policy.
The cooperative approach to be developed by the Industrial Relations Taskforce is designed to drive productive and efficient public sector workplaces.
Today’s announcement is an important further step towards ending the costly conflict-driven industrial relations model of the previous Liberal-National Government.
Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said:
“This will be the biggest pay increase the NSW public sector has gotten in more than a decade."
“It is an investment we have to make. Too many of our essential workers are walking out the door, leaving for other professions and employers."
“We’re making progress, and there is more work to do.”
Minister for Industrial Relations Sophie Cotsis said:
“We were elected on a mandate to fix the recruitment and retention crisis in essential services. That is why we’re putting forward this offer and establishing the taskforce to build a modern industrial relations framework for NSW."
“This will benefit workers delivering services and everyone in NSW who relies on public services like hospitals, schools, police and transport."
“The Liberal-National’s wages cap eroded trust between essential workers and government and suppressed wages. This can’t be fixed overnight, but we have begun the repair job and we will finish it.”
Industrial Relations Taskforce personnel biographies
Anna Booth is a former deputy president of the Fair Work Commission. Ms Booth established the commission’s pioneering Cooperative Workplaces program, and was its National Practice Leader. During her time at the Commission, Ms Booth practised in all the application types that came to the Commission. Ms Booth has also been a non-executive director of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, NRMA, SOCOG, ME Bank, IFM Investors, chair of the law firm Slater & Gordon and National Secretary of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia.
Roger Boland has vast experience in the field of industrial relations including nearly 14 years as a highly respected Judge of the Industrial Court of NSW and over 5 years as the president of the Industrial Relations Commission. Prior to his appointment he was the National Director of Industrial Relations at the Metal Trades Industry Association/Australian Industry Group.