The Abbott government has now clearly shown its hand when it comes to pay rises for public sector workers.
In a decision that has drawn an angry response from the ranks, Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are being told they will have to sacrifice some of their leave entitlements in return for a pay rise that is below inflation.
The deal, which was signed off by the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal in early November, reflects the Abbott government’s policy of demanding that its employees make so-called productivity “offsets” in return for wage rises – even those which are in fact real wage cuts i.e. below inflation.
The policy has of course met with resistance across the public sector. But by making the armed forces an offer they can’t refuse, the government has now established a precedent which will be used against all other areas of the public service.
“If it’s good enough for our boys and girls in uniform, it’s good enough for the pen pushers,” seems to be the government’s message.
The government now seems set for a major confrontation with other groups of commonwealth employees, several of which have already rejected proposed agreements based on the “offset” policy.