Cost of living crisis
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Cost of living crisis
It has been twenty years since we have seen the cost of living so high. The wages policy set by the state government will simply not keep up with inflation. Members see this cost of living crisis at the supermarket check-out and the petrol bowser.
After being an integral part of the response that has kept Queenslanders safe from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's time for the state government to recognise the worth of public servants.
Workers need a real wage increase - we can't afford to go backwards.
Massive increase in the price of petrol
What is causing the crisis?
Raising wages to keep pace with prices does not, in it of itself, cause inflation.
Dr Jim Stanford, Economist, Centre for Future Work
For the first time in two decades, the cost of living is rising faster than public service wages.
Right now, Together members in Health, Education, DTMR, TAFE and WorkCover are preparing to renegotiate their wages for the next 3 years.
2.5% was the state government's wages policy. With inflation across Australia of 6.1%, a 2.5% wages policy would have been a cut to wages in real terms. Public sector workers can't afford to go backwards.
A range of other public sector workers - nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, cleaners and teacher aides - are also bargaining this year. This gave union members across the state an opportunity to work together to make a real difference to your wages.
Public Sector workers can’t afford to go backwards
Union members across the state had an unprecedented opportunity to campaign together to change wages policy in 2022 and we did.
With most of the public sector renegotiating their EB agreements this year, there was a real opportunity for the collective strength of union members to change the state government's wages policy.
A 2.5% increase is a wage cut in real terms, with inflation running above 6%, and union members have said that was simply not good enough.
Union members across the state, from all parts of the public sector, came together to make a difference to your working lives, because Wages Matter.
The State Government has listened to the union members and the revised wages policy is a significant improvement in terms of wage increases as well as one-off compensation payments.
But there is still more to do.
What is the revised wage's policy?
Members have won a major improvement to government's wages policy
The combined union movement has seen a significant change to the government approach to wages policy. Members will be considering their position on the changes.
In response to the combined union campaign and Together's Wages Matter campaign, the State Government has proposed a significant change to their wages policy.
The previous policy was for 2.5% increases each year of the three year agreements.
The proposed policy is for increases of:
- 4% in 2022
- 4% in 2023
- 3% in 2024
The policy also includes the capacity for one off payments in compensation for the impact of rising cost of living. These payments would be made in 2023, 2024 and 2025.
The amount of these payments, and if they would be made, will depend on the rate of inflation in the previous year prior to the payment being made. The payments will also be capped at 3% each year.
How do we win a fair go for low paid workers in 2022?
With so many public servants bargaining this year, take some time to get together with your fellow Together members and members from other unions in your workplace to talk wages. Let's send a message that public servants can't be ignored.
Wages policy is the policy which sets the standard wage increase offered by ever public sector bargain. This year as a combined union we have the won a change to wages policy. We are stronger together.
Changing wages policy was only the first step in Together's Wages Matter campaign in response to the current cost of living crisis.
While we have won significant improvements already this year the compensation payments in particular benefit higher classified workers.
As a result Together members have voted to focus the next stage of the Wages Matter campaign to focus on winning a fair go for lower paid workers as part of each of the collective bargaining negotiations in 2022.
The campaign to win a better wages policy …
January 2, 2022
Developing a plan
Together delegates across the public service looked at the industrial landscape of 2022 and saw an opportunity. A majority of Together members, across Health, Education, TMR, Tafe & WorkCover, were due to renegotiate their EBs, along with many other union members - nurses, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, teacher aides, cleaners and more.
At the same time, everyone was feeling the pinch of the rising cost of living. A 2.5% wages increase would simply not keep up with everything else.
Delegates saw a rare opportunity for all unions to come together to make a real difference to the state government's wages policy. Discussions across the Queensland union movement for a combined union campaign began.
April 20, 2022
TMR delegates vote to support the campaign
On the 20th April, delegates from across Transport and Main Roads met to work through their members' issues in the lead up to their bargaining.
Members reported that wages were their top priority in 2022, and strongly endorsed being part of a joint union campaign for a fair wage increase.
May 2, 2022
Members pledging support
In the lead up to Labour Day, Together members joined online briefings about a potential combined public sector unions campaign on wages.
On Labour Day, members pledged to be part of the Wages Matter campaign. Members from across the public service are having their say and getting involved!
May 16, 2022
EQ delegates meet and endorse
On the 16th & 17th May, members from across the Department of Education met to endorse a plan for their collective bargaining campaign.
The #1 issue for members in this round of bargaining is wages. Members strongly endorsed a combined union campaign to improve the current wages policy so workers in Education don't go backwards.
Members also heard from Centre for Future Work Director Dr. Jim Stanford about the importance of wage increases - not just for public servants, but for workers - and the economy! - generally.
May 24, 2022
WorkCover delegates join the campaign
On the 24th May, delegates from WorkCover met to talk about their log of claims for this round of bargaining and get a briefing on the Wages Matter campaign from Secretary Alex Scott.
WorkCover delegates know the importance of not going backwards in these times of increased costs of living, and are backing in the Wages Matter campaign as part of their 2022 planning.
May 30, 2022
Health Delegates Conference
On 30th & 31st May, delegates from across all parts of Health met to talk about their plans for 2022 to deliver better wages and conditions for members.
Delegates heard from Centre for Future Work Director Dr. Jim Stanford about the importance of strong public service wage outcomes not just for public servants but for all workers.
Members in Health have strongly supported the Wages Matter campaign as part of their bargaining.
June 10, 2022
Together members supporting QNMU campaign events.
In the two weeks leading up to the state budget, Together members and officials attended QNMU campaign events and supported the combined union pledge for a fair wage increase. These occurred at major metropolitan and regional hospitals including the RBWH, Children's, The Prince Charles Hospital, the PA hospital, Hervey Bay Hospital and Maryborough Hospital.
June 17, 2022
Building the campaign momentum in the media
Together Branch Secretary, Alex Scott, continued to raise the profile of the campaign through the media. The focus of this media engagement was to build pressure on the government to address the cost of living crisis facing Queensland public sector workers in light of the government's wages policy of 2.5%.
June 21, 2022
Combined union protest at 1 William Street to coincide with the state budget
The Queensland Council of Unions co-ordinated a joint union protest to coincide with the state budget. The protest was planned for 1 William Street on budget day, June 21st. Together members from across the CBD were to attend the rally in support of a fair wage increase. The protest was also to be attended by representatives of UWU, the QNMU, the QTU, and the UFU. Following a last minute break through in negotiations in relation to the wages policy, unions agreed to call off the protest so members could consider the developments.
June 22, 2022
Together workplace campaign meetings
Thousands of Together members came together for face-to-face and online report back meetings on the Wages Matter campaign and a briefing on the revised government wages policy. The meetings occurred in hospitals and schools across Queensland as well as Zoom meetings for members in DTMR, TAFE and Workcover. At the meetings, members heard from Together Branch Secretary Alex Scott on the possible changes to the government's wages policy.
June 28, 2022
Together delegates determine the next steps in the campaign
Together delegates from across the public sector have met to consider where to next in the campaign.
Delegates have determined that members should consider the proposed revised government's wages policy.
Given the school holidays, Together delegates have determined that any consultation process should occur across all areas of the Together membership in bargaining this year, and commence in the week after school holidays end.
July 27, 2022
Inflation even higher in June quarter
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the official consumer price index for the June quarter on 27 July.
The official inflation rate in Australia had risen to 6.1% and 7.3% in Brisbane. The ABS does not calculate a figure for Queensland
August 1, 2022
Addressing the cost-of-living crisis for lower paid workers a priority for bargaining this year.
Recently, union members were surveyed to determine whether they would support a campaign that prioritises lower paid workers receiving a wage increase that addresses cost-of-living pressures – the results of that survey showed overwhelming support for this.
The current Wages Matter campaign will now be focusing on individual collective bargaining negotiations rather than further improvements to the government wages policy.
"Working people do better when we stick together. When we join together, we use our collective power to ensure that we have a voice at work."
Business Manager & Delegate