Home | Industry & Reform | NSW wages bill foreshadows ‘worse to come’

NSW wages bill foreshadows ‘worse to come’

It will be “virtually impossible” for nurses to bargain for real pay rise under new IR laws, say unions.

Changes to NSW public sector wages are worse than expected and foreshadow further cuts to come, according to the opposition and union leaders.

Opposition Leader John Robertson said the Liberal government took the final step in implementing the changes to public sector wages by releasing regulation on Monday night.

The move comes less than a week after the controversial bill passed through both houses of parliament.

Unions NSW said the regulation shows a "long term agenda".

"This law makes it virtually impossible for the state's nurses, teachers, prison officers and other public sector workers to bargain for a pay rise in real terms," Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said in a statement on Monday.

"On the face of it, the government's long term agenda of driving down wages and conditions like annual leave, sick leave and superannuation is now abundantly clear."

Under the changes, any wage increase received by public sector employees beyond 2.5 per cent per annum will be linked to cost savings.

These employee-related cost savings are in addition to government savings measures and would "generally involve direct changes to a relevant industrial instrument, work practices or other conditions".

The regulation means that pay rises could be held back if the government does not implement reforms, opposition Leader John Robertson said.

"Further changes have been introduced that mean pay rises can be withheld in circumstances where, through no fault of the workforce, the government has failed to implement reforms," Robertson said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Conversely, if the workforce delivers higher savings than anticipated, the government pockets the cash."

The Labor opposition, Greens and unions have waged an angry campaign against the reforms, which they say will give the government unprecedented power.

However, Barry O'Farrell has repeatedly said the coalition is simply enforcing the former Labor government's policy of a 2.5 per cent annual cap on wages increases, unless productivity savings were delivered.

The changes passed through both houses of parliament last Thursday, after politicians in the coalition government-dominated Legislative Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favour of the bill.


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