Bad Pay! Accept it now or fight?

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Recently you might have noticed the police sitting in front of speed cameras with the lights on as they voiced their disgruntled attitudes to the government offering a 2.5% pay rise for public sector workers.  Nurses have also gone on strike because of this same 2.5% pay rise. In fact, the Baillieu government has offered this 2.5% pay rise to ALL government departments and is unmovable on the point. Of course this includes Parks Victoria, MFB, CFA and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) just to name a few. The rate of inflation is 3%, so is it any wonder people are upset! Most government employees are already lower paid compared than their private counterparts but rarely make a fuss due to job security and other perks.

Victorian nurses fight for pay rise. Photo Courtesy of The Australian.

Although some people may think that working for the government is a pretty easy job, with all the productivity measures being brought in over the last decade this is decently not the case. The perception still remains. Government departments in most cases are understaffed and under pressure to do more with less like never before.

In Baillieu’s present reign, if a department wants a pay rise over this 2.5% deal they have to show “bankable savings” such as less staff or spending less. This includes every government department bar Parks Victoria. The Baillieu government is around 18 million dollars in debt (don’t quote me on the amount) and has been under extreme pressure for the last two years to cut its budgets in staff and spending. Due to this poor management style, there are no savings to cover pay increases. Yet with the private sector stupidity, we believe they still received a sizable bonus…

If all other departments strike as the police and nurses have done, would anyone notice? Actions have already begun at DSE and the Department of Human Services yet the news seems to be rather quiet on this matter. If Parks Victoria employees do strike for a better pay, who would really care in the short term? If your park is not weeded and dogs allowed to run wild, who would suffer so immediately that they would ring their state MP to demand it be brought to a halt?

Should the Department of Human Services go on strike, who would suffer except the people they have to care and protect?  That is the dilemma facing DHS at present with the government trying to stop their action by proving that they are endangering people’s lives. Unlike nurses, most government employees are not relied upon every day. There are no laws to say that staffing minimums are needed to service the public.

When strikes happen, very few people notice and many do not care unless it affects them directly. Strikes throughout the state may disrupt a small group of people for a long time before the government gets the message that people will not be pushed behind the poverty line.

Teachers are the next major group to start their negotiations. But as I guess most MP’s have their children in private schools, I would think that this too will get messy.

So the question is: are the teachers, firefighters, and the paper pushers that keep the state running going to accept the 2.5%, or like the police and nurses, fight for change? I believe we are going to see a lot of disruption in our future.

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