PUBLIC sector workers from across the North West created a mega-unions alliance in Tamworth last night.
About 25 unions joined forces and vowed to kick their industrial-action campaigns up a notch against the NSW government’s proposed job cuts to 15,000 positions.
One hundred local public sector workers were expected to meet at the community centre to launch the alliance group which will provide a single voice when lobbying the government on the issue.
It comes just days after public sector workers held four-hour stop-work meetings across the state over the severe cuts proposed to their jobs.
About 28 front-line public sector positions are already understood to have been cut in the Tamworth district alone.
Visiting union executives told their members hundreds of thousands of dollars had been cut from the state budget and as a direct result, thousands of jobs across several public service sectors would be axed.
Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association general secretary Brett Holmes and Independent Education Union general secretary John Quessy flew into the city and met the press before last night’s meeting.
They said the North West Community Unions Alliance would be a “strong voice” when advocating for secure jobs, workplace rights and investment in better services for the region.
Among the unions’ workers involved in the alliance are firefighters, nurses, teachers, police and dozens of public sector workers, including park rangers, school support staff and prison officers.
Mr Lennon said, across the state, workers were worried about the proposed cuts and alliances were blossoming everywhere as a result.
“They want to know what the 15,000 job cuts mean to them and it’s important that working people have that uniting voice,” he said.
“It is a local union alliance and it will be run by local unions.”
Mr Lennon said every job loss in the public sector was about two-and-a-half in the independent sector, demonstrating the ripple effect the cuts would have on other industries.
Mr Holmes spoke about the threats to nursing and midwifery positions in the health sector.
Mr Holmes said the Mehi Cluster of health providers, made up of the Narrabri, Moree, Boggabri and Wee Waa hospitals, as well as five community health centres, had been directed to reduce jobs expenditure by $400,000.
“That will affect their capacity of delivering services to their communities,” he said.
While he said the union was not yet aware of the Tamworth hospital’s targets, they would be closely monitoring those developments.
Mr Quessy, whose union represents independent education providers’ staff, said the cuts would impact on both teachers and support staff.
“It will lower the quality of education for the children of NSW,” he said.
Mr Lennon said the new North West alliance would continue campaigning for its members and, eventually, the government would have to listen.