Tuesday 24th December 2013
Last week the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW (IRC) varied the Public Health System Nurses’ and Midwives’ (State) Award to give members the full 2.5% wage increase originally promised by the O’Farrell Government’s own wage policy. Over the last eight months the Government has used every trick in the book to stop you getting the full 2.5%. Its aim is to limit your wage increase to 2.27% per annum from 1 July 2013, which Health are already paying.
Today, on Christmas Eve, the O’Farrell Government reached a new low point in its contempt for nurses and midwives and other public sector workers: it has unveiled its three-pronged attack on your rights. In the IRC today it sought to stop you being paid the full 2.5% that was awarded last week. However, its rather feeble arguments to put an immediate temporary stop on the increase were rejected by the Commission. It will now hear the Government’s arguments to stop the increase in late January, 2014.
Yet the Government’s mean-spirited capacity to avoid is obligations to you appear unabated. Late yesterday it notified the Association and other unions that it intends to appeal the full 2.5% increase in the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of NSW. The Court of Appeal will commence hearing the matter in early February. More alarming was their introduction of a Regulation that is very similar to the one soundly rejected by the Parliament earlier this year.
This Government’s contempt for nurses, public sector workers, our Parliament and the independent industrial umpire knows no bounds.
Yet this Government’s truculent approach is not new. In early May it tried to discount its promised 2.5% pay increase to Public Sector workers by 0.25% to pay for the Superannuation Guarantee increase legislated by the Commonwealth Government. The Association and other unions successfully argued that the 2.5% should not be discounted. As a consequence, the IRC awarded the full 2.5 percent increase to public sector workers in June this year. The Government then sought to use its numbers in the NSW Parliament to simply throw out the independent Commission’s decision and pass a regulation overturning it. These tactics fell flat, however, when the regulation was finally defeated in the Upper House.
Again the unions sought the awarding of full 2.5% from the Commission, in line with its previous decision. The O’Farrell Government was so determined to deny nurses and other public sector workers basic fairness they then went back to the IRC again and tried to make a case that they can’t afford to pay this paltry increase. This was, yet again rejected by the IRC last week.