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Govt job losses affecting morale, union

By Jo Prichard
16 Mar 2009 4:15 PM

PERTH, March 16 AAP - West Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell may struggle to find 500 public servants who want to be made redundant, the public sector union says.

The government has announced it will support 500 voluntary job losses, and provide $48 million in funding for redundancy packages.

Employee costs in the general government sector had increased by 11.6 per cent last year, nearly double budget projections, Mr Buswell said on Monday.

"With a significant slowing in the State's revenues now evident, and flat revenue growth projected for the next two years, the public sector cannot continue to grow at these sorts of rates," Mr Buswell said in a statement.

"In instances where positions have become, or are likely to become surplus to agency requirements ... we will assist directors general and chief executive officers of government agencies to identify and fund voluntary severance packages for employees.

"We are not considering involuntary redundancies."

The Community and Public Sector Union said things were already tight with the WA Government putting a ceiling on the number of public servants, effectively costing up to 5,000 jobs.

State secretary Toni Walkington said she would be surprised if the government was able to find another 500 jobs to cut.

"I think they'll only get 500 if they really push to do that," she said.

Senior public servants ready to enter the private market may leave, Ms Walkington said, but these people were often knocked back for redundancy because they were too valuable.

"The workload is increasing for people in the public service because of the three per cent cuts," Ms Walkington said.

"It does not create a good morale..."

Mr Buswell said while the 500 jobs would help fulfil the state government's three per cent efficiency dividend, a spokeswoman would not reveal exactly how much money the government intended to save.

Unions representing police and the nurses have previously warned that frontline services would be severely affected if the dividend were implemented.

Those who accept redundancies will be entitled to three weeks pay for each year of service, on top of holiday and long service leave entitlements.

Those who have worked between one and two years would receive a four week payout.