Successive state government wages policies have been seen by our members as a poor reflection on the important role they provide to our community. Over many years, there has been increasing complexity of teacher, school leader and TAFE lecturer roles. A combination of budget cuts and the introduction of the Independent Public School (IPS) program have seen school leaders being subjected to reduced levels of resourcing and increased levels of accountability. This has had a flow on effect to the work of teachers.
The enormous expectations placed on teachers and leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic have added to the mental health and well-being concerns of SSTUWA members. There is no doubt that the planned COVID-19 recovery will incorporate changes to the way in which schools and colleges are expected to provide for students and young adults.
The SSTUWA firmly believes that public sector wage policies must reflect the important role that the public sector has and continues to provide to the wider community, not just during the pandemic but at all times. Investment in the public sector will aid the economic recovery of WA and indeed the country.
“Public service jobs produce value-added, contribute to GDP, generate incomes, and drive consumer spending and government tax revenues as surely as any private sector activity… when public servants (like teachers) get paid, a significant portion (typically between one-quarter and one-third) goes right back to government in the form of income taxes…Considering all these multiplier effects, government gets back in excess of 35 cents for every dollar it spends on public services, and often more” (Stanford 2019).
“The public sector workforce is highly trained and is concentrated in growing occupations that are vital to the state’s economic future and social fabric. Around 63 percent of public sector workers are employed in Education and Training, Healthcare and Social Assistance, two of the four largest employers in the state. Both industries have continued to expand to meet WA’s needs for these essential services, provide a welcome source of job-creation despite the state’s overall economic challenges” (Murray and Henderson 2018).
According to Murray and Henderson (2018), “continuing growth in public sector compensation generates positive spillover effects for the rest of the economy.”
For these reasons the SSTUWA believes that the recently announced state government wages policy is ill-considered and will hinder rather than stimulate economic growth in WA.
Two more years of $1,000 per annum will further distort wage relativities as well as seeing permanent reductions in superannuation growth.
The SSTUWA seeks:
- A return to percentage-based wage increases.
- A return to genuinely negotiated outcomes through bargaining processes.