A fair day's pay

June 23, 2007

The headline of the June 21 Adelaide Advertiser blared "Unfair pay" and for once, most fair-minded people had to agree with the paper. The headline was referring to a pay rise for the state's already overpaid members of parliament.

According to Jan McMahon, secretary of the Public Service Association, while nurses and teachers in South Australia are currently "jumping through hoops" to get a pay increase, at the same time SA state politicians are about to receive a 6.7% salary increase without even having to ask for it. Due to a pattern bargaining agreement the state pollies tied up some years ago, any rise given to their federal counterparts is automatically passed on. The federal politicians' pay is determined by a remuneration tribunal that links politicians' pay to Judges' salaries.

The Australian Nursing Federation is demanding a 14% rise for its members over two years. The state government has offered a derisive 10.5% over three years. ANF branch secretary Lee Thomas was quoted in the Advertiser as saying, "All we are asking for is the same deal these politicians got".

Teachers are expected to strike for one hour on June 28 to protest against new state taxes, including a 1% Workcover levy on staff salaries, which will force public schools to either cut resources or increase fees.

State MPs' base salary will jump to $124,920 — a rise of $7970. ALP state treasurer Kevin Foley insisted this did not set an example for nurses, teachers and other government employees. "I can vouch for our ministers that we do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay", he claimed. Foley's salary went up to $219,000, a rise of almost $14,000 and about four times what a nurse or teacher gets.

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