Rally a “stunt”: MP
Tuesday, 28th June, 2011
Local MP John Williams has dismissed as union “posturing” a planned rally outside his office today to protest against the public sector wage freeze.
The Member for Murray-Darling said the rally was also about giving State Opposition leader John Robertson a much-needed boost.
“It’s all posturing - it means nothing,” Mr Williams said yesterday. “He (Mr Robertson) needs backing, he needs an issue.”
Local unions say the government’s changes will effectively reduce the wages and conditions of thousands of public sector workers who will no longer have the protection of the Industrial Relations Commission.
But Mr Williams said yesterday the legislation which was passed by Parliament last week was essentially the same legislation that Labor introduced in 2007.
He said other Labor states had, or were in the process of, introducing similar legislation to NSW.
“By the end of the year every state will have the same introduced.”
The MP also dismissed claims workers such as teachers and nurses would be worse off, saying unions would continue to negotiate above-inflation wage increases for their members.
“The fact is they’ve got around it (the 2.5 per cent cap) before and they’ll do it again.
“It’s now a big issue because the Coalition government are doing the same thing that a Labor government did. If these people have been hard done by I’ll have a word to the government, but there’s been no evidence of that in the past.”
Mr Williams said he did not believe the government would back down but that there could be adjustments made.
“I don’t think it will be overturned. I think there will be some (changes) done over time.”
Unions are calling on the public to support union members and their families by attending today’s rally which will be held at 4.30pm at Mr Williams’ Bromide Street office.
BIC president Danny O’Connor said locals should be “incensed” that the NSW Parliament has betrayed workers with “worse than Work Choices” legislation.
“This is a working class town where we’ve always believed in a fair go for working people,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The deceit of the O’Farrell government in not telling the people of NSW before the election that he was going to implement this attack on their wages and conditions shows a complete lack of respect for our frontline workers.”
President of the Barrier Teachers Association, Maureen Clark, said workers would face longer working hours and shorter breaks, while holidays and sick leave would also be affected.
“Where is the independent umpire? The premier has removed the workers’ right of appeal regarding their wages and conditions.
“Families will not only lose wages but also quality of life.”
Mrs Clark said the two reasons the NSW Government offered for their wages policy were “dubious”.
“The supposed ‘black hole’ deficit of $4.5 billion dollars was disproved by a former head of Treasury, Michael Lambert, who said a more realistic figure was $1.93 billion.”
She said the media had also reported the shortfall was due to weak GST revenue and expected slowdown in property transactions over the next four years.
“Government workers are expected to show wage restraint and give up their conditions on this very dubious economic premise when the real economic conditions are being experienced by all governments at present,” Mrs Clark said.
The government also claimed that union commitments in salaries negotiations had not been met.
“This is strange since the former Director-General of Education and Training, Michael Coutts-Trotter, had told the new government that his department had achieved sufficient savings to completely fund teacher salaries.
“Our pay increases should not be held to ransom by this government.”