West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has been booed and heckled in front of Parliament House by hundreds of police officers, who are demanding a higher pay rise.
Officers are angry that Labor has broken an election promise to stick to the previous Coalition government’s 1.5 per cent wage deal for all public servants.
Mr McGowan announced in May that public servants’ pay increases will be capped at $1000 a year, because the state budget was in a dire state with the highest debt in the nation.
“If we do anything different, all we’re doing is borrowing money so that yourselves, your children and grandchildren will have even more debt to pay off into the future,” he told the rally.
He was booed, with some police shouting out that the state’s financial problems were not their fault and pointing out Labor party employees recently got a 9.5 per cent pay rise over three years, although that was not taxpayer-funded.
People at the rally held placards depicting bloody images of police injuries, including an officer who was recently struck with a samurai sword, fracturing his skull.
The government has leaked details about the confidential negotiations showing the union has asked for a 6.5 per cent pay rise over two years.
Union president George Tilbury said that was merely its initial counter offer at the start of negotiations months ago but he did think police deserved a higher pay rise than the $1,000 the rest of the public sector was getting.
“The job we do is difficult and dangerous, police officers put their lives on the line, they are the only public servants that have to act when an offence is committed whether they witness it on or off duty,” he said.
The union has threatened to launch a third phase of industrial action on top of measures already taken that will hit the government’s hip pocket, such as issuing cautions rather than fines for minor offences, but strike action is not being considered.
WA’s public servants, including its police officers, are the best paid in the country dating back to the mining boom.