Albany city staff reject 6% pay rise as union campaigns for higher raise

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Albany city staff rejected a 6% pay raise citing concerns about the rising cost of living.

Staff voted last week on the draft Enterprise Agreement (EA) with 63.2% of the vote to reject the proposed pay rise, rising to 6% in the first year and 2.5% the next year.

The council, which employs around 400 people, had proposed scrapping a clause to tie pay to the consumer price index due to rising inflation, a move that drew anger from the Australian Services Union (ASU).

ASU wants the board to agree to a 7.6% salary increase for staff in the first year of the EA in accordance with the CPI.

ASU Assistant Branch Secretary Jill Hugo said the union has been negotiating with the city of Albany since the beginning of June.

Jill Hugo, Assistant Branch Secretary of the Australian Services Union WA.(ABC News: Benjamin Gubana)

“There are concerns about the first-year salary increase and the removal of the ‘safety net’ language from the salary increase clause of the company agreement,” Ms Hugo said.

“The proposed wage increase in the first year is lower than the CPI, and for workers, a minimum CPI wage increase simply allows their budget to continue to pay their mortgage, their rent, their bills, their fuel and their races.

Ms Hugo said that if the cost of living exceeded 2.5 per cent, the City’s proposed wage increase for the second year of the agreement, those staff would be disbursed.

Affordability issue

Albany City Manager Andrew Sharpe said the council has an obligation to staff and ratepayers to provide an affordable and sustainable wage increase.

“The vote was really about raising salaries and what the City could afford to pay staff,” he said.

“Salaries are always a key point in these negotiations and the City wanted to give staff a pay raise that is fair to them, but also fair to the community.”

Mr Sharpe said ASU had waged a “strong campaign” against the proposed EE.

Sharpe said the city recognizes the pay sacrifices made by staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, which included a wage freeze and reduced hours.

Negotiations between the City and the Union will continue.

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