No Case For Wage Attack

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Dr. John Buchanan

Dr. John Buchanan

Data compiled by Dr John Buchanan of the University of Sydney’s Workplace Research Centre dispels the myths that public sector workers are part of the financial woes of NSW.In his address to annual conference, Dr Buchanan explained to delegates the results of his research comparing public sector nurses’ wages to other state and private sector nurses, and examining whether public sector wage increases have led to a wage blowout in NSW.‘There are unequivocally problems in the Public Health System but nurses are not part of the problem.‘Government arguments that public sector wage increases have led to a wage blowout are not supported by data. The data reveals that public sector workers are not overpaid and there is no wage blowout.’

Dr Buchanan explained that between 1997 and 2010 NSW public sector nurses’ wages had increased an average of 4.2%. ‘Treasury’s presentation of public sector wage increases is deceptive. Wages oscillated between 4-8% – nothing like 23% as the Government is claiming. You need to compare like with like.’

Dr Buchanan explained the need to compare NSW public sector nurses to workers with similar characteristics.

‘A superficial comparison of public verses private wages finds an 8% difference. However, 7% can be attributed to greater level of qualifications, skills, tenure and experience among public sector nurses compared to the private sector.

‘When you line up the facts, there’s essentially no difference in public and private sector wages. Nor is there a great difference in what NSW nurses are paid compared to public sector nurses in other states.’

According to Dr Buchanan’s research, there is a major disconnect between wages and productivity.

‘The data shows that public sector workers are not overpaid. There’s no wage blowout. The key problem is the distribution of prosperity.

‘Science is on your side. There’s no validity in the O’Farrell Government’s claim that NSW can’t afford to pay public sector workers.

‘You are right to feel outrage at the new laws,’ he said.