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Jobs on the line: BIC

Friday, 12th August, 2011

Local union boss Danny O’Connor has called on MP John Williams to stand by a pledge to “fight tooth and nail” to save public service jobs in the city.

The request comes after the NSW opposition yesterday asked Premier Barry O’Farrell to rule out public sector job cuts in the Coalition government’s first budget, due next month.

Labor says slashing jobs to reduce government expenditure will hurt families and result in nurses and police being bogged down in paperwork.

The government is believed to be planning budget cuts of up to 25 per cent for some government departments, which could lead to job losses, in the wake of the recent global economic turmoil.

Mr O’Connor, president of the Barrier Industrial Council (BIC), said he agreed with NSW Opposition leader John Robertson that job cuts would hurt families.

“We hope this is not going to be the case. We’re only going on assumptions at this stage,” Mr O’Connor told the BDT.

“We can only refer back to John Williams’ statement that he will fight tooth and nail for them.”

Mr O’Connor said the possibility of job losses could come as a “double whammy” for public servants who recently rallied against the government’s 2.5 per cent cap on wage increases.

Mr Williams, the Member for Murray-Darling, spoke to the BDT from Sydney - where Parliament is sitting this week - and said while the budget was expected to be tough, no job losses had been announced.

 “This is just speculation,” Mr Williams said,

“I certainly don’t want to see any job losses in my area.

“The fact of the matter is I’ll be taking any of those issues to the relevant minister with a view to maintaining those jobs.”

News Ltd reported that the Department of Primary Industries is facing a budget cut of 25 per cent, and NSW Health could see its budget fall by $30 million. Funding for Community Services and Trade and Investment would also be slashed, Mew Ltd said.

Mr Robertson called on Mr O’Farrell to rule out taking the axe to the public service in the budget due on September 6.

“We’re going to see jobs lost in police, health, transport, education, emergency services and primary industries - these are jobs that are going to impact on families right across NSW,” Mr Robertson told reporters in Sydney.

“Families of NSW are going to be affected badly when we see our nurses filling out administrative paper work rather than looking after patients, when our police are trapped inside the police station doing paperwork, rather than patrolling the streets and making our community safe.

“If you cut back in Primary Industries we’re not going to be able to respond to things like the Hendra virus ... nor will you be able to deal with things like the locust plague we saw primary industries dealing with last year.”

The budget cuts would be used to address falling GST receipts and tax revenues and deliver a surplus.

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon warned a slash-and-burn budget will hurt the state’s economy, which has been struggling since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

“At any time when there is a risk of an economic downturn, governments should be spending, putting money back into the economy, boosting the confidence of consumers out there to at least keep a platform under the economy and make sure that demand remains constant throughout the community,” he said.

“But no, they’re going to shake the confidence of the community, and shake the economic confidence of NSW by cutting the jobs of their very own workers.” - BDT/AAP


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