Reserve Bank of Australia staff are considering industrial action to demand a bigger pay increase after the latest round of wage negotiations left employees “angry and frustrated,” according to the Finance Sector Union.
(Bloomberg) — Reserve Bank of Australia staff are considering industrial action to demand a bigger pay increase after the latest round of wage negotiations left employees “angry and frustrated,” according to the Finance Sector Union.
“Our members are hurting like everyone else in the community, facing higher interest rates and the cost of living crisis,” FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano said in a statement Tuesday.
“You would think the RBA would be in a better position than most other employers to understand the need to give staff a real wage increase.”
The RBA’s latest offer of an 11% pay rise over the next three years is “only marginally better” than the 10.5% increase workers rejected in August, Angrisano said. The offer is lower than that delivered to the rest of the public service and below what is being paid by the four biggest banks, she said.
As a result, FSU members are now “considering all options,” the union said. It called on new Governor Michele Bullock to step in to resolve the pay dispute and head off the risk of industrial action.
Australia has experienced nine consecutive quarters of real wage declines, when inflation outpaced pay increases over three-month periods. The RBA is trying to reverse that trend, having raised interest rates by 4 percentage points since May 2022 to 4.1% as it bids to gain control over inflation.
The RBA is “continuing to engage in the bargaining process,” a spokeswoman said in a statement, adding that the proposed pay increase also includes a number of benefits such as hybrid work and uncapped family and domestic leave as needed.
The central bank declined to respond specifically to the union’s suggestion of potential strike action.
RBA officials have repeatedly argued for pay gains to remain below inflation to avoid unleashing a wage-price spiral.
Policymakers have traditionally said that annual wage gains of “3-point something” are appropriate in Australia, taking into account an inflation rate of 2.5% — the midpoint of its target — and average productivity growth of about 1%.
(Adds comment from central bank.)
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