Well you’re about to. That’s because the new award negotiations between the Union and the Department have started and it is clear that they are far from being fair and reasonable. At the outset the Department has been hamstrung by the New South Wales Government’s new wages policy which restricts annual wage rises to 2.5%, unless there are employee related savings. With inflation going the way it is a 2.5% wage rise will amount to a wage cut.
The Reserve Bank agrees that inflation is on the up. At their meeting of 4 December 2007, Australia’s bank stated:
“Inflation in CPI and underlying terms was expected to be above 3 per cent in the first half of 2008, before declining somewhat thereafter, to be around 3 per cent at the end of the forecast period.”
So why is the NSW Government directing the Department to in effect cut firefighters wages and to oppose any back pay of the new Award? Particularly when the Treasurer told the people of New South Wales on the floor of the Parliament:
“The Government is committed to maintaining the real value of wages for frontline workers, with additional scope to reward workers for further productivity gains.”
The NSW Treasurer, Michael Costa MLC, 6 June, 2006
Lets also remember how politicians’ wages are set. Every year the Remuneration Tribunal grants Politicians a wage rise that has never come close to being less than inflation. This year they got six-point-seven per cent, last year they got seven per cent and the year before that they got four-point-four per cent without offering a single productivity gain. To be clear, these wage rises were granted without politicians having to work longer, harder or smarter. They just got the extra cash thank you very much.
Firefighters should also consider the state of the New South Wales treasury coffers. Just yesterday the Government revised the annual budget and predicted the State’s surplus would increase by $130 Million to $506 Million, more than enough to fund a decent pay rise for all of us, just like politicians get every year.