icare: An update on your pay rise - Public Service Association

icare: An update on your pay rise

The Government published the updated Salaries Circular for this year on 31 August 2022. It is for all relevant Government Departments and Agencies covered by the PSA’s main Salaries Award, along with some smaller agreements.

You can find the Circular with the new rates HERE.

The Insurance and Care NSW Award links to the Public Sector Salaries Award. Subsequently, icare with agreement from the PSA has made an application to the Industrial Relations Commission for a new Award to pass on the salary increases from to icare staff.

The new Award was made on 1 September 2022, and we expect icare to advise us shortly as to when you can expect to receive the pay rise.

When will we receive the pay rise?

As the Government has now formally published its Salaries Bulletin for the year, Departments and Agencies will now commence the process of implementing the new rates.

This will involve an increase in your current rate, backpay to the first full pay period on or after 1 July this year, and a small top up in superannuation for that same backpay period.

If members have any concerns these amounts are not correct, they should take it up with their payroll, and contact the PSA if they can’t gain a satisfactory resolution to their concern.

Cost of living up, wages down

Despite the overwhelming negative economic impact, the NSW Government has stood by its unfair and unjust wages cap, which limits your pay increases to a maximum of just 2.5 per cent per year (including all super increases). This represents a real wage cut for Public Sector workers, who represent one in six jobs across this state.

PSA members stand up for fair pay

PSA members took state-wide industrial action on 8 June 2022 over this policy. In an effort to stop PSA members from taking action, the NSW Government announced in the week of the strike a small amendment to its wages policy that increased the pay cap from 2.5 per cent to three per cent. However, this figure remained far short of inflation at the time, which was running at 5.1 per cent. Since then, this figure has continued to climb!

Given this paltry offer, the PSA day of action went ahead.

NSW Government takes action in the Industrial Relations Commission

The NSW Government then sought to amend the Salaries Award to reflect this new wages policy in the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) on 1 July 2022.

Additionally the NSW Government refused to offer any back pay to the first full pay period after 1 July 2022 (as has been usual past practice, and was the date the Government filed the application to amend the Awards) and sought to lock in a two-year Award.

Following a failed conciliation held on 15 July 2022, the matter moved to arbitration in front of the Full Bench of the IRC on 22 July 2022.

Wages cap stifles the ability of the IRC to increase wages

At that hearing, the IRC was unable to consider the PSA’s claim for a real wage increase for Public Sector workers. Instead, the government used its legislated wages cap powers, through the Industrial Relations (Public Sector Conditions of Employment) Regulation 2014 to restrict consideration of the case and force through the wage cut to your pay.

It is worth noting that a former NSW IRC President recently stating that the tribunal is subject to “significant jurisdictional or statutory limitations which hinder its ability to set just and reasonable rates and conditions”.

Small victory on backpay, but the battle is yet to be won

In the arbitration of the Salaries Award, the PSA argued on several grounds to try and limit the damage done by the Government’s case. We were able to win a decision of the full bench of the IRC so that:

  • The Award will commence from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2022 (back pay)
  • The Award will have a nominal term of one year.

However, due to the wages cap, the Commission could not increase the Awards by anything other than the maximum permitted by the wages cap.

The NSW Opposition pledges to axe public sector wages cap

It is clear that the only way to increase wages across the Public Sector, and by extension all of NSW, is to scrap the cap. The NSW Opposition has publicly committed to doing so if it wins the March 2023 state election.

The campaign to Scrap the Cap continues

The NSW Government should abolish its cap on wages, and allow the IRC to arbitrate wage increases based on maintaining real wages and rewarding Public Sector workers for productivity improvements. Such a policy would align Public Sector workers with other workers in the economy, and underpin sustainable economic growth across NSW. If this Government refuses to scrap the cap, this should be kept in mind when members vote on a new State Government in March 2023.

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