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$1000 for cops, ambos and nurses - but there’s a catch

A $1000-a-head peace offering has been made to frontline workers in a last-minute bid by the state government to win support from the major unions on a year-long public service pay freeze.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet was last night locked in talks with key union bosses, offering the $1000 one off payment to non-executive frontline staff - including nurses, police, paramedics, teachers and train crews - in lieu of their scheduled 2.5 per cent salary increase.

The offer, which includes a promise of no forced redundancies, was made as the state government faces defeat this week in parliament's upper house over its wage freeze proposal, which is intended to save $3 billion over four years.

Treasury estimates the one off payments would cost $20 million.

 

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is playing hardball over the state government’s wage freeze plan. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is playing hardball over the state government’s wage freeze plan. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett


The government intends to play hard ball - if the pay freeze is blocked in parliament, Mr Perrottet will withdraw the offer of the $1000 and promise of no forced ­redundancies and take the matter to the Industrial Relations Commission.

The negotiations come just days after the government announced it would freeze the pay of more than 400,000 public servants for 12 months with no exceptions for frontline workers.

The Queensland Labor government has taken the same steps, but in NSW an upper house revolt has made the proposal more difficult. Labor, the Greens, One Nation, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and Animal Justice Party have all indicated they would not support a wage freeze.

The 2.5 per cent scheduled pay hike would equate to $2000 on a $80,000 salary.

 

Police are among the frontline workers who would get the $1000 bonus. Picture: Richard Dobson
Police are among the frontline workers who would get the $1000 bonus. Picture: Richard Dobson

 

The government has built its case for the wage freeze by arguing the money saved would be used to create new jobs for people on unemployment lines.

"COVID-19 has devastated our economy with more than 500,000 out of work and the government is determined to do what is right to protect and create jobs," Mr Perrottet said in a statement.

"We are pausing pay rises for politicians and public servants so we can guarantee jobs for people who are in them and create tens of thousands more for those who have found themselves out of work."

 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says if the proposal is rejected, jobs would be at risk. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says if the proposal is rejected, jobs would be at risk. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

 

Mr Perrottet said he wanted to work closely with unions to "get a good ­outcome".

"I would love to be able to give everyone a pay-rise but given the environment we need to put our funds towards creating jobs and pay cheques for the half a million people out of work," he said.

The government previously rejected calls to exempt frontline workers from a pay freeze over concerns it was too difficult to identify where to draw the line.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said last night jobs would be at risk if the pay freeze was not backed.

 

Originally published as $1000 for cops, ambos and nurses - but there's a catch


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