O’Farrell rejects umpire’s call

Liberals overturn Industrial Commission decision on superannuation.

Nurses and midwives will have to pay for superannuation increases out of their own wage packets after the New South Wales government overturned a ruling by the industrial umpire.

A 0.25% superannuation increase for all Australian workers came into force on July 1 under federal Labor government law.

However, the state government announced it would absorb the increased liability within its existing legislated 2.5% cap on all wage growth – effectively forcing 300,000 NSW public sector workers, including nurses, to fund their own superannuation increase.

Unions appealed to the Industrial Relations Commission, which ruled that workers were entitled to receive the 0.25 % superannuation as well as a pay rise of 2.5%.

Three days later, the O’Farrell Government simply introduced a newly drafted regulation to Parliament that explicitly included superannuation in the total 2.5% cap, overturning the court decision.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA Brett Holmes described the government’s action as a cynical abuse of process and yet another attack on the independence and authority of the industrial umpire.

“With this New South Wales government, even when workers win, they lose,” he said. “This is a dangerous precedent because as superannuation gradually shifts to 12% under national legislation, it should not be funded out of the wages of nurses and other public employees.

“It seems that whenever this state government sets out to save money it picks the pockets of public sector workers.

“The public sector wage cap of 2.5% is already too low without being further eroded to meet the government’s own superannuation obligations.”