Health workers and other public servants in Western Australia have ramped up their wages battle with the state government, threatening to strike unless they receive better pay.
Hundreds of enrolled nurses, ward clerks, cleaners and other health workers held a brief stop-work meeting outside Perth Children's Hospital on Wednesday.
The workers, represented by the Health Services Union of WA and United Workers Union, are lobbying for a pay rise above the 2.75 per cent annual increase offered under the state government's public sector wages policy.
They say their pay is going backwards under the policy given WA has both the lowest wage growth and highest inflation rate of all states.
Addressing the rally, HSUWA secretary Naomi McCrae said an alliance of public sector unions was committed to going on strike outside Parliament House on August 17 unless the government improved its offer before then.
Along with health workers, the alliance also includes unions representing police officers, firefighters, prison guards and child protection workers.
"We all know people who've chosen to leave public health rather than stay. They're leaving because they can earn more with better conditions elsewhere," Ms McCrae told workers.
"WA Health simply cannot afford to lose more skilled, experienced staff."
Further stop-work meetings are planned in coming weeks at Royal Perth Hospital and Fiona Stanley Hospital.
A resolution seeking support for the August 17 strike action was met with enthusiasm by the gathered workers.
"We aren't going to stop until we get a fair deal," Ms McCrae said.
"If the government doesn't act, let's pass some responsibility back to them."
The unions have accused the McGowan government of trying to entice health workers from interstate and overseas while "doing nothing" to retain existing staff who had struggled through tough conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They noted that health workers in NSW, Victoria and Queensland had recently secured retention payments and improved pay offers.
Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson last week said the government would "bargain in good faith" around the existing wages policy, adding she did not foresee a significant impact on services from the stop-work meetings.
Teachers and public hospital doctors both recently voted to accept a 2.75 per cent pay increase.
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.