West Australian police officers and teachers are gearing up for a fresh fight over wages with the cashed-up state Labor government.
The state teachers and police unions argue a proposed 2.5 per cent pay increase is insufficient given the pressures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police officers are seeking a five per cent annual rise, along with increasing shift allowances, overtime rates and penalty payments for significant public holidays.
WA Police Union president Mick Kelly says officers have toiled under restrictive wage policies over the past five years.
“Our remuneration claims include recognition of the positive contributions our members have made protecting WA throughout the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 24 months … and their real need to experience real growth in their pay, both now and in the future,” he said on Monday.
The union is also pushing for members to have the “right to disconnect” rather than having to stay connected outside of their rostered hours.
The McGowan government last year used its $5.6 billion budget surplus to fund a new public sector wages policy, promising to provide 150,000 employees with above-CPI wage rises.
Treasury figures showed Perth recorded a 5.7 per cent rise in inflation last year, albeit off a low base due to households receiving a $600 electricity credit in 2020.
Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said he was bound by the state wages policy but would negotiate in good faith.
“I would hope that common sense and good faith bargaining applies and it doesn’t take two years to knock it over,” he told reporters.
Teachers are seeking a four per cent annual salary increase and a return to genuinely negotiated bargaining outcomes.
They argue stagnant wages have contributed to teacher shortages and a 2.5 per cent pay rise will be insufficient to address the trend.