Andrew Barr and the union representing public servants are at loggerheads over pay and conditions, with the Chief Minister under fire over comments he made regarding his ACT public sector workforce and their wages.
In a letter to the Community and Public Sector Union last week, Mr Barr suggested many public servants were high-income earners and that federal income tax cuts – rather than salary increases from his government – would help them with the cost of living.
He said it was ACT employees on the lowest wages who would be getting the love from his government and should expect pay rises.
“The government is carefully balancing generous remuneration to our workforce with a responsible and disciplined fiscal strategy to return to a balanced position in the medium term,” Mr Barr wrote to the union.
“Unfortunately, the CPSU wage claim does not represent an affordable or fiscally responsible approach for the government to adopt.”
The union had previously rejected an offer the ACT Government made in November of a $1250 cost-of-living supplement and a flat increase of $1750 to be made this month.
Using both percentage rises and flat increases over the life of the agreement, a four-year deal put up by the government would see a worker on a salary of $53,868 receive a 21.4 per cent pay rise over the period while a worker on $157,201 a year would get a 12.4 per cent boost.
The CPSU is after a better deal for all, but Mr Barr has ruled out higher increases.
He told the union that the federal government’s stage three tax cuts in 2024-25 would help offset cost-of-living pressures for his public servants on ‘higher incomes’.
According to the ACT Government’s figures, an employee receiving $120,000 per annum would pay $1875 less tax in 2024-25 compared to this current financial year while a public servant earning $200,000 a year would pay $9075 less tax in 2024-05 thanks to the stage three tax cuts.
The CPSU has accused the Chief Minister of insulting his workforce, making it hard for a resolution to be reached.
The Territory’s politicians and senior public servants were granted a 3.25 per cent pay rise in September, bringing Mr Barr’s annual salary to $371,910.
Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry is paid $318,780 a year, and Leader of the Opposition Elizabeth Lee earns $301,070.
Other ACT Government ministers earn $301,070, while the Deputy Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Hanson was boosted to an annual salary of $212,520.
Assembly backbenchers got an increase of $6000 a year, taking their pay to $177,100.
Head of the ACT Public Service, Kathy Leigh, now takes home $434,014.
ACT Auditor-General Michael Harris earns $360,529 and the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly Tom Duncan receives $283,230.
CEO of the City Renewal Authority Malcolm Snow and CEO of the Suburban Land Agency John Dietz are each paid $388,099.
Other senior public servants to get pay rises include the President of the Human Rights Commission; the Discrimination, Health Services & Disability and Community Services Commissioner; the Public Advocate; the Children and Young People Commissioner; Victims of Crime Commissioner; and the Work Health and Safety Commissioner.
Rank-and-file ACT public servants are still waiting for their pay rises.