PUBLIC SERVANT WAGES MATTER TO MOST WORKERS
No doubt you will have seen various images and news stories about public servants going on strike and marching on Parliament House. In the past couple of weeks alone we have seen nurses and midwives, teachers, paramedics and our administrative civil servants. I also don’t need to think too far back to recall firefighters, police officers and train drivers also striking in protest.
People will have mixed views about the act of going on strike and marching in protests. But it is an agreed and evidence proven fact that wages in NSW and Australia have been flat for the past 10 years. While other costs have gone up, our wages have stayed flat and this means, in very real terms, that we are going backwards. A dollar earnt today will buy less than that same dollar earnt 10 years ago – that’s a simple fact!
So what if I am not a public servant, how will their protests help me?
There are approximately 400,000 state employed public servants in NSW. In addition, there are an estimate 100,000 federally employed public servants in NSW too. This total of 500,000 public servants, living and working in/around NSW is about 16% of the total 3.5million workers active in the NSW workforce.
In many types of work, the private industry competes against the public industry for workers. Think about nurses or teachers that could work public or private. Think about train driver or bus drivers that could work public or private. Think about social workers, psychologists, road construction workers, engineers, etc that can choose between the private and public employment options.
So by pretty simple logic, it is clear that if public servants wages go up, then private wages will have to follow, or else the risk is that staff will vote with their feet (and hip pocket) and do similar work where they can best make ends meet.
In addition, workers will make career changes when the wages issue signals to them that it would be worth their while.
During COVID our economy witnessed a pretty amazing, and largely predictable, phenomenon when we put extra money in the pockets of the millions only to see those same millions of people do a pretty good job of spending their money and giving the economy some much needed stimulus. You would call this “trickle up” economics.
For too long the agenda of Government and corporates has been a thing called “trickle down” economics, which is meant to see the profits passed on to the workers. Guess what? The past 10 years has been clear evidence that this theory is total rubbish! In fact, the opposite has happened. The supposed “trickle down” theory had a massive dam built between the very top of the system and the middle-low parts of the system. The top have become incredibly wealthy, while the rest of the system are spreading every dollar they earn thinner and thinner and thinner.
If our public servants get a pay rise, then it is certain and clear that the great majority of workers in the rest of the economy will also receive wage increases.
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