Last of the summer wine for the Public Service?

johnboy 19 June 2013 33

As the nightmare of an Abbott Government looms ever larger on Canberra’s horizon the ABC has the unhelpful news that the cardigan set have seen their wages grow 5.8% over the last year:

The research by the Public Service Commission shows median wages grew 5.8 per cent last year.

The increase is nearly double the federal government’s wages growth target of 3 per cent.

Wages for non executive staff grew by 5.9 per cent last year compared to 4.7 per cent for senior executives.

The 2012 APS Remuneration Report includes information from all Australian Public Service (APS) agencies covering 153,622 employees.

The commission says the rapid wages growth was fuelled by a lower recruitment rate, with fewer low-paid positions being filled and more pay rises due to increments within enterprise bargaining agreements.


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33 Responses to Last of the summer wine for the Public Service?
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A_Cog A_Cog 1:21 pm 19 Jun 13

So? Why is this of any concern?!?

The general CPI rise for March 2012-March 2013 was 2.5%. For health it was 6.1%, Education was 5.8%. Business costs increase year to year from suppliers, utilities, resources, so why is it verboten for public servants? According to neoliberal economics, low levels of inflation is not just healthy but necessary for economic growth, you know, that single fundamental drive underpinning the western way of life.

Also, these rises are comprised of two things: (a) the annual increases to APS wages which are built into the Enterprise Agreements, and (b) the progression along the pay scale from APS4.2 to 4.3 or EL1.1 to EL1.2 or wherever the worker is. This is justified because every year, if the person has done a good job and also improved their skills, they are a more effective and efficient public servant than they were previously. So it is justified for their pay to increase because the capabilities of that worker have improved, and CPI rises to groceries/rent/everything occur.

The APS pay increase doesn’t show that the public service is a gravy train – far from it. What this pay increase shows is the inherent stinginess in the private sector, with businesses lying their heads off about cost pressures despite booming profits (think banks or the financial services sector) and using their lies to shaft workers from getting a fair days pay for a fair days work.

The APS is a [near] mdoel employer. It follows workplace laws and recompenses workers fairly. Just look at the fact that the gender disparity is negligible: …”near-perfect pay equality between male and female public servants…”

arescarti42 arescarti42 1:41 pm 19 Jun 13

A_Cog said :

So? Why is this of any concern?!?

The general CPI rise for March 2012-March 2013 was 2.5%.

Errr, it’s of concern because wages rose by 3.3% points more than inflation.

If it is progression along the pay scale, then what it means is that the public service is skewing towards more high level staff and becoming increasingly top heavy. If it wasn’t, then staff moving up the pay scale would be averaged out by people at the top retiring and newbies coming in at the bottom, and it wouldn’t impact on the average wage.

A_Cog said :

The APS pay increase doesn’t show that the public service is a gravy train – far from it. What this pay increase shows is the inherent stinginess in the private sector, with businesses lying their heads off about cost pressures despite booming profits (think banks or the financial services sector) and using their lies to shaft workers from getting a fair days pay for a fair days work.

What your comment shows is the extent of the bubble that public servants live in. As someone who works in the private sector, I can tell you that out in the real world where businesses actually have to turn a profit or go belly up, the economy isn’t doing brilliantly, and many businesses are struggling.

Far from taking significantly above CPI wage increases, workers in many industries are taking wage cuts, some massive (wages for certain skilled mining occupations are down by a third). Lower skilled workers in many industries are having their hours cut back or are just being laid off.

Watson Watson 1:51 pm 19 Jun 13

Lower recruitment rates also means that more of the people filling the current positions are on a higher increment for their level. I don’t think it’s that unusual to pay more experienced people a higher rate? If you would start massively recruiting noobies, that would translate in a drop in average pay.

thebrownstreak69 thebrownstreak69 1:54 pm 19 Jun 13

I’m about to sign a contract for 10% lower rate than this year. Worth it to keep constant contract work going over the next 12 months, though, so no compliants from me.

pepmeup pepmeup 2:35 pm 19 Jun 13

(b) the progression along the pay scale from APS4.2 to 4.3 or EL1.1 to EL1.2 or wherever the worker is. This is justified because every year, if the person has done a good job and also improved their skills, they are a more effective and efficient public servant than they were previously.

I almost spat my coffee out reading this, is it a Joke?

gee the figures in the above story will make it very easy for the Abbott gov to cut the 12,000 jobs. the rest of the country must hate us. Holden workers are being asked to take a pay reduction to save their jobs while Publics servants are getting twice CPI pay increases.

Looks like a tough few years for some who live with in the APS Bubble

Rollersk8r Rollersk8r 4:16 pm 19 Jun 13

Surprise – more people were recruited at the senior end and the average wage went up! It has also been widely reported these senior ranks are being targeted for reduction, regardless of Abbott.

Masquara Masquara 4:40 pm 19 Jun 13

Well every certified agreement I’ve seen in the last few years has had pay increases of four per cent or lower.

A_Cog A_Cog 7:16 pm 19 Jun 13

arescarti42 said :

What your comment shows is the extent of the bubble that public servants live in. As someone who works in the private sector, I can tell you that out in the real world where businesses actually have to turn a profit or go belly up, the economy isn’t doing brilliantly, and many businesses are struggling.

Nah mate, you’re wrong. Monthly car sales figures in Australia have been breaking records repeatedly, since 2010. That is for sales of NEW cars. For most people, a new car is the second largest purchase of their lives. If they are employees, they’re not in so much financial distress, and if the purchases are by business owners, well, they must be doing well enough to swing $30K to $60K in cash or debt.

arescarti42 said :

Errr, it’s of concern because wages rose by 3.3% points more than inflation.

Congratulations on both misunderstanding a statistic, and also misrepresenting what it means and taking it out of context. The GENERAL increase to the CPI was 2.5%, but that number is comprised of many other rises to component indices, hence my reference to health and education increasing by 6.1% and 5.8% respectively.

I stand my my points: the pay increase represents (a) staff becoming better at their jobs the longer that they are in them, in a way that the private sector doesn’t do because they shaft more experienced workers and pay them the same as newbies, and (b) the APS being a model employer and not shafting women (and in fact, ALL their workers).

chewy14 chewy14 9:44 pm 19 Jun 13

arescarti42 said :

A_Cog said :

So? Why is this of any concern?!?

The general CPI rise for March 2012-March 2013 was 2.5%.

Errr, it’s of concern because wages rose by 3.3% points more than inflation.

If it is progression along the pay scale, then what it means is that the public service is skewing towards more high level staff and becoming increasingly top heavy. If it wasn’t, then staff moving up the pay scale would be averaged out by people at the top retiring and newbies coming in at the bottom, and it wouldn’t impact on the average wage.

A_Cog said :

The APS pay increase doesn’t show that the public service is a gravy train – far from it. What this pay increase shows is the inherent stinginess in the private sector, with businesses lying their heads off about cost pressures despite booming profits (think banks or the financial services sector) and using their lies to shaft workers from getting a fair days pay for a fair days work.

What your comment shows is the extent of the bubble that public servants live in. As someone who works in the private sector, I can tell you that out in the real world where businesses actually have to turn a profit or go belly up, the economy isn’t doing brilliantly, and many businesses are struggling.

Far from taking significantly above CPI wage increases, workers in many industries are taking wage cuts, some massive (wages for certain skilled mining occupations are down by a third). Lower skilled workers in many industries are having their hours cut back or are just being laid off.

What’s the total wages bill and how much has it gone up by?

It simply looks like hiring freezes leading to higher % raises for current staff (or sackings/redundancy) but lower growth overall.

Statistics like these don’t actually mean much without context. I’ve been in companies where we would have averaged over 10% pay rises but its because we sacked a whole heap of staff and people were needed to fill higher positions.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 11:09 pm 19 Jun 13

Whatever else happens to APS numbers as a result of across-the-board and targeted cuts, I expect that under a Coalition Government, increases in remuneration due to agency or Service-wide pay settlements and incremental advancement will have a more direct impact on staff numbers. To the extent this turns out to be the case, it certainly does not augur well for the private sector in Canberra – even with the 5.8 per cent outcome reported by the ABC, things are already distinctly slow.

arescarti42 arescarti42 9:06 am 20 Jun 13

A_Cog said :

Nah mate, you’re wrong. Monthly car sales figures in Australia have been breaking records repeatedly, since 2010. That is for sales of NEW cars. For most people, a new car is the second largest purchase of their lives. If they are employees, they’re not in so much financial distress, and if the purchases are by business owners, well, they must be doing well enough to swing $30K to $60K in cash or debt.

Oh that’s funny, the ABS seems to disagree with you. New vehicle sales for May 2013 were flat, following four consecutive months in falling sales, and have only registered a 0.2% increase over the year.

I guess I also missed the memo that made (made up) new car sales the leading indicator for the Australian economy.

A_Cog said :

Congratulations on both misunderstanding a statistic, and also misrepresenting what it means and taking it out of context. The GENERAL increase to the CPI was 2.5%, but that number is comprised of many other rises to component indices, hence my reference to health and education increasing by 6.1% and 5.8% respectively.

I understand CPI just fine, it’s a weighted cross section of goods and services designed to mimic the consumption of the average consumer. That’s why it’s called the consumer price index. Unless you’re spending your entire income on health or education, the increase in prices for you is going to be a lot less than ~6% (for the average person, ~2.5%).

Profligacy in the public service comes at the expense of people who actually generate wealth and value in the economy. Generous wage increases when the rest of the economy is doing it tough is inappropriate.

Conan of Cooma Conan of Cooma 9:44 am 20 Jun 13

I’m at the top of my band and didn’t get a pay rise last year, with the exception of the one awarded by our agreement. My team has suffered the loss of 4 members to other positions and they have not been replaced. Obviously we have had to pick up the slack to compensate, but when the missing staff members were an EL1, a 6 and two 5s, and us three are not being paid any extra to cover the additional duties, it starts to make you wonder WTF is going on in management.

Especially with the tales of our CIO flipping out and destroying his office (twice now) when he was told he wasn’t allowed to finish his contract early and move to Melbourne.

Mav Mav 9:53 am 20 Jun 13

I work in the private sector and have done since leaving the RAAF back in 1990. Things are far from rosey that is for sure. My last wage rise was in 2008 which was a whopping 2%. Since then no further wage rises have been forth coming and there are none planned in the future. There is no EBA or Certified Agreement with my current employer and my previous employer had also ceased having an EBA.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 10:52 am 20 Jun 13

Mav said :

I work in the private sector and have done since leaving the RAAF back in 1990. Things are far from rosey that is for sure. My last wage rise was in 2008 which was a whopping 2%. Since then no further wage rises have been forth coming and there are none planned in the future. There is no EBA or Certified Agreement with my current employer and my previous employer had also ceased having an EBA.

Sounds familiar – which is why the huffing and puffing and stamping of feet by people who are outraged at not getting CPI-plus annual pay increases is sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying, and occasionally infuriating. It’s also why some in this community are somewhat more sensitive to the level of increases in government, and government-influenced, rates, taxes, charges, tariffs etc. etc. – it must be easier to be relaxed and philosophical about those hikes when your already comfortable income is going up on a regular basis.

I think we’re all in for some sobering times ahead.

switch switch 11:24 am 20 Jun 13

HiddenDragon said :

I think we’re all in for some sobering times ahead.

Unfortunately I think only some of us are in for sobering times ahead.

watto23 watto23 12:10 pm 20 Jun 13

HiddenDragon said :

Mav said :

I work in the private sector and have done since leaving the RAAF back in 1990. Things are far from rosey that is for sure. My last wage rise was in 2008 which was a whopping 2%. Since then no further wage rises have been forth coming and there are none planned in the future. There is no EBA or Certified Agreement with my current employer and my previous employer had also ceased having an EBA.

Sounds familiar – which is why the huffing and puffing and stamping of feet by people who are outraged at not getting CPI-plus annual pay increases is sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying, and occasionally infuriating. It’s also why some in this community are somewhat more sensitive to the level of increases in government, and government-influenced, rates, taxes, charges, tariffs etc. etc. – it must be easier to be relaxed and philosophical about those hikes when your already comfortable income is going up on a regular basis.

I think we’re all in for some sobering times ahead.

Completely agree, when you here about public servants getting upset at a guaranteed 2-3% payrise when the rest of the workforce just doesn’t get a payrise, because it can’t be afforded by private companies. I’d rather the coaltion government just had a pay freeze and realignment of pay to match the australian average. A fair majority of public servants get payrises because it is easier to give them a payrise than it is to not.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 12:15 pm 20 Jun 13

switch said :

HiddenDragon said :

I think we’re all in for some sobering times ahead.

Unfortunately I think only some of us are in for sobering times ahead.

I was going to say something like that, but even though many will remain comfortable (even if a little less relaxed than hitherto), I think the flow-on effects of the likely cuts, combined with the broader economic transition which Australia faces, means that few, if any, will feel that they’ve never had it so good.

p1 p1 12:54 pm 20 Jun 13

watto23 said :

I’d rather the coaltion government just had a pay freeze and realignment of pay to match the australian average. A fair majority of public servants get payrises because it is easier to give them a payrise than it is to not.

At first glance I like your idea… then I wonder exactly how the hell you define what the Australian average pay rate is for a given public servant should be? Seriously. Do you compare my wage with the average for a private sector worker of my age and education?

I am certainly a little concerned about the coming purges, but am quietly confident that (even with the most ultra conservative, fiscally responsible incoming government) it wont take that long for them (and everyone else) to realise that there are some things the governments kinda need to do, and that they kinda need some staff to do it.

I just hope that there are still some people ’round who know how to do things when the dust settles.

A_Cog A_Cog 12:59 pm 20 Jun 13

arescarti42 said :

Oh that’s funny, the ABS seems to disagree with you. New vehicle sales for May 2013 were flat, following four consecutive months in falling sales, and have only registered a 0.2% increase over the year.

Again, you’re misrepresenting statistics, but you’re also flat-out wrong. Your link is not to the ABS, but this one is: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/9314.0May%202013?OpenDocument

I suggest you actually go to the ABS data for new car sales, and turn the spreadsheet into a graph, then look at where the blue line (car sales) hits the black line (sales per month of 100,000 cars or more). New car sales have repeatedly broken records since the GFC, and for the recent 12 months are above the pre-GFC average of 85,000/month in 9 out of 12 months.

arescarti42 said :

I guess I also missed the memo that made (made up) new car sales the leading indicator for the Australian economy.

If Australians are spending $30K to $60K on new cars IN RECORD NUMBERS then, yeah, car sales are a pretty good indicator of good economic conditions (as well as low inflation, low unemployment, healthy interest rates… I could go on, but I’m guessing you either don’t understand or don’t want to recognise these measures either). People are buying these new cars with either cash or debt, which means they are doing just fine.

arescarti42 said :

Profligacy in the public service comes at the expense of people who actually generate wealth and value in the economy.

You seem incapable of recognising the point that the APS payrise shows the stinginess of the private sector, not the “profligacy” of the APS.

A_Cog A_Cog 1:09 pm 20 Jun 13

Further, arescarti42, your link was to macrobusiness, not the ABS.

So, since you seem to gather your alleged ‘facts’ via google, here are three news stories about 2010-13 car sales to overcome your obvious confirmation bias (you should google ‘confirmation bias’ too):

Car dealers post record breaking sales in 2012
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-16/car-dealers-have-best-sales-on-record-in-2012/4631896

4WDs lead car sales to record highs
http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/4wds-lead-car-sales-to-record-highs-20130104-2c850.html

New car buyers in Australia break new sales record in January [2013]
http://www.news.com.au/business/companies/new-car-buyers-in-australia-break-new-sales-record-in-january/story-fnda1bsz-1226566908324

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