Chief Minister capitalises on staff terminations in attempt to manipulate bargaining 

The Electrical Trades Union condemns the decision by Chief Minister Gunner to capitalise on staff terminations in an attempt to manipulate public service workers in the ongoing bargaining negotiations.

Public service workers have voted overwhelming against the pay freeze proposed by the Gunner government. The proposal included a yearly $1 000 taxable bonus for the duration of the four-year wage freeze.

Territorian public service workers received an email from the Chief Minister yesterday stating that ‘about 400’ workers’ employment would be terminated in response to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates announced by the NT government, resulting in a reported $30 million saving each year.

The email went on to say that because of this, the government’s next offer to workers would include a $4000 taxable bonus for the first year, and $2000 each year following, for the four year period. The Chief Minister went on to encourage workers to take the offer and vote ‘yes’ to the four-year wage freeze.

“This offer shows that Michael Gunner as the Treasurer is reactive. He’s avoided taking responsibility and genuinely listening to the concerns of the workers who voted no to the wage freeze proposal, instead has capitalised off the termination of these workers’ colleagues.

“The Chief Minister has told workers that it’s on unions to ‘find a better solution’ for the public sector. Unions have been pointing to resource mismanagement in the government agencies, but it’s fallen on deaf ears. The agencies are top-heavy, and a lot of money could be saved if they were run more effectively. This is just another attempt by the Chief Minister to undermine unions.”

“At the end of the day, they are still proposing a wage freeze,” says Mr Hayes. “Territorians will still be behind after a four-year wage freeze, even with the proposed bonuses, as inflation continues to go through the roof. Unions want a long-term approach that is genuinely good for workers.”

The wage freeze was initially proposed as a solution to the struggling Northern Territory economy, and Michael Gunner’s proposal was to freeze wages. “It’s not the responsibility of workers to forego wage increases that keep up with the cost of living so that the economy can heal,” says ETU State Secretary Peter Ong. “It’s up to Michael Gunner as the Treasurer of the Territory to come up with a genuine, well thought-out plan for the future of the Territory.

“This is complete opportunism,” says Mr Ong. “The Chief Minister has just capitalised on the termination of 400 workers. This shows no forward planning, no thought to the future of the Territory’s economy, which by his admission is in bad shape. What is he going to do after the four years is up? We can’t trust Michael Gunner as the Treasurer of the Territory.”


For more information, please call David “Strawbs” Hayes on 0419 721 042 or Kristin Perissinotto on 0448 633 858.