Public servants reject below-inflation pay offer

In a move eerily reminiscent of the lousy pay offers this year to NSW and Victorian public sector workers, the Queensland Labor government has offered staff at the Department of Main Roads a 3.25% per year increase for the three years of their current enterprise agreement. The offer is significantly below the official inflation rate in Brisbane of 5.1%, the highest of any capital city in Australia.

The Queensland Public Sector Union (QPSU) has rejected the offer and, at meetings across the state, union members voted to strike for 24 hours on August 22.

The government has made an alternative offer of 4% per year, but it is accompanied by several mandatory "service delivery enhancement initiatives". These "initiatives" ( trade-offs) are very similar to some measures in the previous federal Coalition government's notorious Work Choices legislation.

For road construction and maintenance staff, the trade-offs include: working any five days out of seven, including weekends; working at night for up to 12 consecutive weeks; and working up to four nights with two days' notice. It is unclear whether the government intends to impose these trade-offs on administrative staff also.

The government has rejected 27 out of 29 of the union's log of claims. The QPSU says that the Department of Main Roads, one of the first departments to be offered only 3.25%, is a test case: if the government can force the deal through, it will try to impose it on other departments.

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