Higher wages needed to attract extra staff at SA Pathology and reduce COVID test wait times

MEDIA RELEASE
Tuesday 21 December 2021

Higher wages needed to attract extra staff at SA Pathology and reduce COVID test wait times

Professionals Australia, the union representing workers at SA Pathology has called for higher wages to attract more staff and help reduce COVID test wait times for South Australians.

Professionals Australia CEO Jill McCabe said SA Pathology was having difficulty attracting additional staff to process COVID tests as a direct result of the Marshall Government’s wages policy.

The South Australian government policy has limited wage offers to public sector workers to an average of 1.5 per cent a year. This is well below the Adelaide Consumer Price Index, which means that in real terms, South Australian public sector wages are going backwards. According to the state government’s own budget papers[1], the Adelaide consumer price index (CPI) is forecast to grow by 2.75 per cent in 2021-22, far exceeding the 1.5 per cent pay increase being offered to SA public sector workers.

“Right now, SA Pathology is struggling to hire the additional staff needed to manage the increase in COVID testing due to low wages and poor workplace conditions.

“While the Marshall government tries to blame a so-called labour shortage for not being able to hire more SA Pathology staff, the reality is better wages and conditions are required to attract more staff.”

“South Australia’s underemployment is the highest in the country[2] and if SA Health want to attract quality candidates for jobs, they need to offer an attractive wages package.

“Across SA Pathology there are significant workplace issues with understaffing, overwork, and overtime.

“Members have told us that every week there are unfilled gaps in rosters, This has been going on for years, but the Marshall government has done nothing to address the shortages.

“Professionals Australia and other unions have been warning the state government that there has been a long-term underinvestment problem in SA Health, including in SA Pathology, which is being felt even more acutely during the pandemic.

“SA Health need to acknowledge the tireless work of the technical officers and medical scientists in SA Pathology and recognise the benefits of a well-resourced and publicly owned and managed pathology service.”

“We urgently call on the Marshall Government to offer higher wages to attract the staff we need at SA Pathology and provide the vital pathology services that South Australians need, especially during the pandemic.

Media contact: Darren Rodrigo – 0414 783 405

[1] State Budget 2021-22, Mid-Year Budget Review, Economic Forecasts, page 21 https://www.treasury.sa.gov.au/budget/current-budget/2021-22/Mid-Year-Budget-Review-2021-22.pdf
[2] ABS, Labour Force, Australia, November 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia/latest-release