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Workers rally in pay protest
Workers at today's Parliament House protest. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

More than 1000 hospital and education workers converged on Parliament House today to demand a better wage deal from the Barnett Government.

Waving placards and dancing to the beat of heavy-metal band Twisted Sister’s “We’re not going to take it”, the vocal group of support workers described the Government’s offer of a weekly pay rise of between $22 and $28 as “miserly”.

United Voice WA Assistant Secretary Carolyn Smith said the pay rise would not cover the skyrocketing cost of living.

The workers, who earn between $30,000 and $40,000 a year on average, want an $80-a-week pay rise.
Support workers include patient care assistants, orderlies, cleaners and education-support workers in schools.

“United Voice members have been negotiating their EBAs for the past 6 months now, to no avail,” Ms Smith said.

Ms Smith said workers were concerned the Barnett Government would privatise hospitals, including the new children’s hospital.

“We all know that this will lead to lower wages, less staff and increased workloads for the remaining support staff. This can only have a detrimental impact on WA’s Health system.”

Terrie Sumner, who works at an education assistant in a primary school, said she earned less than $30,000 a year.

"Lots of my co-workers struggle every day to make ends meet," Ms Sumner said.

“All we want is a fair deal for the front line.”

Ian McDonald, an orderly and nursing assistant at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, said his wage worked out to be a meagre $21 an hour, far less than what most West Australians earned.

“We have noticed our finances are going backwards,” he said.

Health Minister Kim Hames said the Government had no intention of contracting out more hospital services to private companies.

“If we do, we will announce that before the election,” Dr Hames said.

He said the Labor Government had only offered workers $28 in 2008 and 2009.

Acknowledging negotiations had stalled, he vowed to refer the matter to the WA Industrial Relations Commission.

“My understanding is we are not getting much progress so we intend to go to arbitration and we will let the independent umpire make a decision.”

Kim Hames speaks to workers protesting outside Parliament House. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian