Today, thousands of health and education workers have formally rejected the Western Australian Government’s pay offer of 2.5 per cent per annum, signalling their willingness to take future industrial action.
More than 90% of United Workers Union (UWU) members surveyed rejected the Government’s pay offer in a recent survey.
The survey, which was developed by UWU, garnered responses from various professions including enrolled nurses, education assistants, cleaners, caterers and patient service attendants and other workers from publicly-run schools and hospitals around the State.
UWU Public Sector coordinator Kevin Sneddon said it was unacceptable that the workers who continue to sacrifice and work hard during the ongoing pandemic would be rewarded with a pay cut.
“When the McGowan Government was elected in 2016, public sector workers were asked to put a brake on wage increases while the Government tried to balance the books. Reluctantly workers accepted this as a temporary measure,” Mr Sneddon said.
“We are now more than five years in, the State is back in black, and the cost of living is skyrocketing and the Government’s response to make up for the years of sacrifice is to offer what amounts to a pay cut.
“Well workers are understandably upset and feel like their hard work has gone unnoticed and are ready to take various forms of industrial action if the Government refuses to budge.
“Everyday we are reading in the newspapers about the health crisis as a result of chronic understaffing. Well workers aren’t going to stick around doing some of the most demanding and difficult jobs if they can get paid more in other industries or other states.
“We have a situation where enrolled nurses unable to pay schools fees, education assistants moonlighting with Menulog and hospital caterers struggling to get to their night shift because of extortionate fuel costs and limited public transport. It’s just not good enough.”
One worker who is being left behind is special needs education assistant Rob Schmidt.
“I struggle to put food on the table and fuel in my car,” Mr Schmidt said.
“This really makes me think about leaving education and getting a job somewhere else.”
Workers will consider action later in the year when bargaining for new agreements begins in earnest.
The WA Education agreements expire in December, while the WA Health agreements expire in August and October respectively.
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