Gains made through united front, work continues
By Pat Byrne
As an affiliate of UnionsWA, the SSTUWA has long known that strength lies in unity; the multiplier that applies when unions work together towards common goals.
If more evidence was needed of this simple truth it comes from the success of the Public Sector Alliance.
Success? Yes. Thus far the Public Sector Alliance (PSA) has been the driving force behind not one, but two changes to state government wages policy.
Instead of a $1,000 increase for each of the two years of the 2021 General Agreement, public sector workers were offered three per cent increases in each year and a one-off cash bonus of $2,500.
For SSTUWA members on under $100,000 this represents in the first year a 5.5 per cent increase, not the one per cent that was on the table in July 2021 when negotiations began.
Make no mistake, without the powerful and cohesive presence of the PSA it is highly unlikely that the state government would have budged from its original $1,000 stance.
Great credit goes to UnionsWA Secretary Owen Whittle and his team.
Bringing together so many public sector unions, including the SSTUWA, United Workers Union, CPSU/CSA, United Firefighters Union, WA Prison Officers Union, Health Services Union WA, Professionals Australia, the Rail Tram and Bus Union and WA Police Union was no easy task.
Each union has a diverse membership that spans an incredible range of occupations, salary levels and backgrounds. This brings different demands and requirements.
Every union involved has at times had to balance those specific needs with the common good.
When one union has undertaken actions every other alliance member has been there to offer support.
From the launch at the SSTUWA offices, through to the Town Hall meeting in November, various individual union actions and the rally at Parliament House in August, the collective voice has been loud and strong.
Applying a diverse range of actions has led to some good outcomes. Prior to formally agreeing to the state government offer the SSTUWA stipulated that such agreement was on the condition of guarantees that any further improvements would be passed on to teachers and leaders. This has meant not only the SSTUWA, but other unions who had signed agreements, have benefited from those assurances.