On a day when public sector workers united in protest at cuts to the public sector budget and its wages bill, it was hardly good news for the state government to have the Opposition also touting another government attack on workplace awards.
It was also not a good look to have allegations that its health minister had admitted nurses were also in line for the axe under cuts to public hospital funding.
In this region, there have already been reports that redundancies have been offered to nurses.
In Tamworth, organisers were pleasantly surprised to see about 150 members turn up for the Public Service Association meeting, defying a ruling by the Industrial Relations Commission.
It is a measure of the concern of workers – our police, corrective services, fire station workers, school support staff, park rangers, child protection case workers, disability support workers, information technology and human resources staff from across state
government departments – that we see so many of them turn up and surprise union delegates and officials.
Regional PSA organiser Steve Mears outlined just what impacts the
proposed job and services cuts will have.
The job cuts already announced are just the tip of the iceberg but the word is that more are to go in schools and the rural fire service.
It will be the trickle-down effect, he forecasts, just a few here and there, and then the flow gets faster.
He estimates it could easily be 100 to 120 in the next six to 12 months.
The state government for its part suggests that it is paying a minimum 2.5 per cent wage increase which is currently above inflation. Treasurer Mike Baird says this is both fair for public servants and affordable.
In a statement he repeated that NSW was “in an incredibly difficult economic position. Since we came to government, NSW is receiving $2.5 billion less each year. That $2.5 billion is equivalent to the wages of 20,000 teachers.”
The government reminds us it has to bring public service wages under control so it can continue “to deliver vital services and infrastructure for the people of this state, both now and in the future.”
That may be so, but there are other budgetary arms that can bolster financial obligations too. It needs to ensure that the frontline services our society needs are not a major victim of any slash-and-burn mentality.