Teacher salaries going backwards under the Liberal government

The NSW Liberal Government will only grant teachers a 3% pay rise, which fails to keep up with inflation.

After the government admitted to the fact that a teacher's salary in NSW is uncompetitive, the Minister for Employee Relations endorsed the wage increase that will see real wages go backwards. While we are in a cost of living crisis essential workers like teachers should not be left struggling to make ends meet. 

Abigail questioned the Minister in Parliament about whether the the Government is culpable for the teacher workforce crisis in light of the real wage cut they are inflicting on teachers. 

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:38): My question is directed to the Leader of the House in the Legislative Council, and the Minister for Employee Relations. Just a few weeks after the Government admitted the pay of teachers under its salary cap policy was uncompetitive, the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales [IRC] has today begun arbitration on the Government's award application for teachers in government schools. Given that the Government's salary cap has meant that since 2011 running a work value case in the IRC has been futile, systematically undervaluing the work of teachers, will the Minister accept his Government's culpability in the teacher workforce crisis engulfing our State and commit to endorsing his own Government's position in the NSW Teacher Supply Strategy to reflect the value of the teaching profession by lifting the wage cap and bargaining in good faith?

The Hon. DAMIEN TUDEHOPE (Minister for Finance, and Minister for Employee Relations) (12:39): I thank the member for her question, which involves the Government's wage cap policy. In relation to the Government's wage cap policy, I say first and foremost that it has been endorsed this week by the Prime Minister and the Federal Government. I am sure the member is aware that this week the Federal Government considered a wage proposal for Commonwealth public servants and endorsed a fair and reasonable wage cap increase for Federal public servants of 3 per cent. That is totally in line with the New South Wales Government's position in relation to wage policy.

To the extent that the member suggests that negotiations have not been in good faith, I reject that entirely. There are always strong negotiations between the relevant public service bodies—in this case, the education department. I am a bit surprised the question was not directed to the education Minister, who is primarily at the forefront of those negotiations. In relation to that, she has confirmed that she is happy to deal with the union in relation to productivity outcomes in respect of a whole range of work conditions relating to teachers, including face‑to‑face hours and a whole raft of issues that have been raised by the unions in relation to their award claim.

The award claim is not just about wages. It is about a whole series of things that the union has sought. This is a Minister who has sought to increase the productivity of teachers. The recent announcements in relation to high‑performing teachers who want to stay in the classroom have all been along the lines of obtaining excellent outcomes in the teaching profession. I have to say that some of the announcements that were made last week about enhancement to the teaching profession are to be welcomed. But the wage cap underpins, in many respects, a great deal of the work we have done. [Time expired.]

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:42): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate how Labor's policy failure at a Federal level has anything to do with his own Government's policy failure and his decision to keep the salary cap and limit the education Minister's ability to negotiate in good faith?

The Hon. DAMIEN TUDEHOPE (Minister for Finance, and Minister for Employee Relations) (12:43): I thank the member for her question and point out to her that the Federal Labor Government's wages decision backs in exactly the position taken by the New South Wales Government. That position has been not only taken by the New South Wales Government but also backed in by the Reserve Bank Governor. I say to the member that in circumstances where extraordinary inflationary pressures are impacting the Australian and New South Wales economies, and are being dealt with, in terms of monetary policy, by the Reserve Bank, the Reserve Bank Governor has indicated that wage increases ought to have a ''3" in front of them. That is exactly what the New South Wales Government has committed to.

There is no way that anyone could deny that over the 12 years of this New South Wales Government a lot of the improvements that we have been able to deliver for the people of this State have been underpinned by having a position in relation to wages policy. Numerous Labor Ministers will back it in.

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