COVID-19, Wages, Agreements, Budget

Posted on May 6, 2020

We have seen remarkable efforts to 'flatten the curve' led by the Queensland public health system. This flattening of the curve has saved tens of thousands of Queenslanders lives when compared with the initial projections and the international tragedies which we are continuing to witness. We need to continue to be vigilant in our response to the pandemic to ensure that we do not see a major loss of life or a 'second spike.'

As the health emergency recedes we are now faced with an economic crisis the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression almost one hundred years ago.

Have your say in our survey here.

This economic crisis will have an unparalleled impact on the state budget.   Over the last couple of weeks we have seen a number of announcements from the state government in response to the collapse of state revenues including the so called "wage freeze" and more recently the "recruitment freeze." We are continuing to seek clarification from the government about what is actually proposed in relation to these announcements. I have been meeting with senior government representatives over the last week about this.

We have also seen the conservative media and big business calling for cuts to company tax and deregulation of the labour market. This is their policy answer to every economic and budgetary challenge.

We know that Queensland workplaces, the Queensland public sector and the Queensland community will not be the same following this pandemic. As a union we need to develop our vision of what we want for Queensland as we emerge from the pandemic and also how we want to campaign for our vision.

As I said at the Together virtual Labour Day rally on Monday, as workers we need to have a strong voice on the future of our state and the future of our public sector. I believe we have an opportunity and should be advocating for a better public sector rather than just responding to the government's announcements.  I have been discussing with Together delegates and the Branch Executive whether we should be seeking a new style of positive engagement with the government, where union members can propose solutions to the current budget crisis and also discuss how to reform the public sector so we are not asked to do more with less again, and again.  

This sort of engagement is not without risks to our union. We know it is always easier to throw rocks from the outside rather than trying to influence the decisions before they are made.  However, I believe that given the scale of the economic and budget crisis that we should take this risk.

If we are going to engage with the employer, we need to know what your priorities are in terms of protecting members' job and conditions.

We need to know what you need to see and experience for this to be a genuine consultation and engagement process with your employer.

That is why we want to hear from you about whether you support a positive engagement and the issues you feel are the most important.

Complete the survey here.

Thanks to members who filled out our working from home survey – we have made this page as a resource and will be updating it and sending out info to those who opt in.

We are still running our survey for those with caring responsibilities for children about home-based learning and your experience of it – fill it out now.

Thank you for all that you are doing to support each other and all Queenslanders during this crisis. As public sector workers you have made the difference and saved lives.

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