A decision by the industrial umpire that public sector workers should be paid superannuation on top of their 2.5 per cent wage cap is to be appealed by the New South Wales government.
Treasurer Mike Baird said the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) had on Tuesday upheld a union application for workers to be paid superannuation in addition to any wage increase, rather than be included in the 2.5 per cent cap that was set by the government.
Mr Baird said the decision failed to take into account the state of NSW’s finances.
“Public sector wages make up almost half the state budget so it is critical that we continue to deliver wage increases that are both fair for employees and affordable for NSW,” he said in a statement.
If the IRC’s decision was left unchecked and superannuation increases were not absorbed into the government’s existing wages policy, Mr Baird said expenditure could increase by $860 million over the forward estimates.
He said the government would appeal the IRC’s decision.
“We make no apologies for taking every effort to control spending, while ensuring fair and affordable wages are provided across the public sector,” he said.
Unions NSW Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Morey said the IRC simply upheld the government’s own legislation on wages, which capped increases at 2.5 per cent.
Had the government been successful, he said public sector workers would have seen wage increases of 2.27 per cent.
“There has been significant cuts to public sector employment and jobs over the last two-and-a-half years,” he told AAP.
“Workers are already taking on more work but are getting paid less.”
Mr Morey said the government had run a “capacity to pay” argument at the IRC, but this had not been successful.
“We will certainly have a look at what they are seeking to appeal the decision on,” he said, vowing unions would continue to fight.