Protests pressure premier in QLD wages stalemate

About 5,000 members from the Queensland Public Sector Union (QPSU) and many other unions met today to oppose the Premier’s 3.25 per cent wages offer for hospital workers and other public sector employees.

At Queens Park in the Brisbane CBD, an estimated 4000 public sector employees rallied including firefighters, cleaners, paramedics, teacher aides, rail workers and health administration workers.

In the regional centres of Mackay, Rockhampton and Townsville, hospital staff held protests and refused to work during a union organisd four hour work ban. 

In response to the action, Premier Bligh released a statement saying she had requested the Minister for Industrial Relations to personally attend wage negotiations and meet with unions on a daily basis if necessary in order to accelerate the negotiations.

Queensland Public Sector Union general secretary, Alex Scott said it was the first time in 20 years workers from different departments and agencies had united to protest against the government.

At the Brisbane rally, Mr Scott criticised the Premier for failing to take responsibility for public sector wages and service delivery.

“This Premier is spending millions talking about Queensland’s tomorrow, but she won’t spend one day in today’s state schools talking to the government’s own workers.

"She won’t even spend one hour talking to workers from Queensland Health about what we need to recruit and retain staff, and maintain quality services”.

Mr Scott promised that industrial action would not affect crucial services but that the campaign would continue for as long as it takes the Premier to make a fair wages offer to help workers cope with the increasing costs of living.

Premier Bligh said the Government has offered up to four per cent a year over three years “which includes service delivery improvements”.

“This is in line with other states such as Victoria and New South Wales and we believe it is a fair offer.

“Every one percent wage increase above this amount would costs taxpayers approximately $170 million.

“In these current uncertain economic times it would be financially irresponsible to put our economy in jeopardy,” she said.

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