Three-year pay offer put to 400,000 NSW public sector workers

Sydney Morning Herald, 20 May 2024

More than 400,000 public sector workers in NSW including nurses and police officers will be offered a wage rise of 10.5 per cent including superannuation over the next three years, which the state government argues outpaces forecast inflation.

Under the government’s pay offer, workers would receive 4 per cent in the first year, followed by 3.5 per cent in the second and 3 per cent in the third. It includes legislated rises in super of 0.5 per cent in July this year and next.

If inflation exceeds 4.5 per cent in any year, workers will receive a $1000 “cost-of-living” protection payment.

The Minns government argues the offer is higher than those for public sectors in other states, and will deliver wages growth that surpasses projected increases in the cost of living over the next three financial years, as measured by the Sydney consumer price index.

NSW Treasury’s recent forecast is for Sydney CPI to be 3.1 per cent in 2024-25, and 2.7 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively in the following two years.

The latest offer includes the ability to negotiate productivity gains, and the right to have the independent umpire assess and determine union and department claims.

It covers nurses, cleaners and other healthcare employees, firefighters, police and prison officers, and caseworkers. However, it excludes paramedics who struck a four-year agreement in December that resulted in an average increase of 25.5 per cent over the term of the deal.

Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said the three-year offer would see pay and conditions improve, and was about giving certainty for hard-working families across NSW. “It creates a new, fair framework that can deliver a better outcome for everyone,” he said. 
Public sector workers received a one-year 4 per cent pay increase in 2023, which was the largest since the previous Coalition government introduced a wages cap in 2011. The removal of the 2.5 per cent annual wage cap was a key election commitment for Labor.

Industrial Relations Minister Sophie Cotsis said the baseline offer laid the foundation for a fairer system for workers and their families in NSW. “We said we would scrap the wages cap – and we did,” she said.

Departmental officials informed unions on Sunday of the offer for public sector workers.

The latest offer was budgeted for in 2023 as part of the $3.6 billion Essential Services Fund, which was established last September to support long-term growth in pay.