General News

25 April, 2023

Big pay rise for TRC staff

STAFF at Tablelands Regional Council will get a 9.25 per cent pay rise over two years as part of a new agreement endorsed by council last week.

By Robyn Holmes

Big pay rise for TRC staff - feature photo

The agreement, which spans three years, allows for a 5 per cent pay rise which will be back-paid from 1 July 2022, and another 4.45 per cent rise which takes effect from 1 July 2023.

A third pay rise of 3.5 per cent will take affect from 1 July 2024.

Chief executive officer Gary Rinehart told councillors that employees had not had a pay rise in two years, with the last one of 2.1 per cent back in 2019.

Thanking staff for their contribution during the negotiations, Mr Rinehart said everyone had acted in “good faith” during the development of the new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.

“I do understand that sitting down with me to negotiate your wages and conditions is not necessarily the most inviting of tasks that you can undertake but I did really appreciate the staff that step up and do that on behalf of their colleagues,” he said.

Council began the negotiations with unions and staff in September last year which culminated in a confidential employee ballot in late March to ascertain the support for the agreement, yielding a “yes” vote from 97 per cent of the staff.

“Five per cent (pay rise) may seem or perhaps could be viewed as a large increase however given inflation over the past couple of years and given the staff had not been given a pay rise in two years, it was important, particularly for lower paid workers, that this was a meaningful increase and the agreement achieves that,” Mr Rinehart said.

He said the current budget could accommodate the back pay, in part because of savings the organisation had managed to achieve this year.

“No budget variation is required for this year and the projected costs (for the 2023-24 year and subsequent years) are fully detailed in this year’s budget packs – there’s a full explanation in there,” he told councillors.

Cr Peter Hodge said a 9.25 per cent rise over two years was “very substantial”.

“I don’t know how many businesses could withstand that” he said.

Cr David Clifton and Deputy Mayor Kevin Cardew supported the pay rise, noting it was important to retain good staff.

“This does have budget implications and they may be more than what we thought they ought to be but we can’t lose sight of the critical fact that if we want to remain fair to our staff, if we want to remain an employer of choice, and if we want to have proper hearts, we need to increase people’s salaries and wages,” Cr Clifton said.

“For me, we’re not going to fight about a fair package for our staff.”

“I agree with Cr Clifton’s comments – we certainly need to look after or staff especially those lower paid areas of our workforce,” Cr Cardew said.

“We are in difficult times, the cost of living is going through the roof and, again, if we want to maintain our employee base…. then we need to pay appropriate wages – I think it’s a good outcome for our staff.”

Now council has endorsed the agreement, officers will apply for certification of the agreement by the Industrial Relations Commission.


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