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Fears as jobs get the chop

Thursday, 8th August, 2013

Public Services Association general secretary Anne Gardiner and Bathurst-based regional organiser Kylie McKelvie are worried about cuts to the public sector- including TAFE. PICTURE: Gavin Schimidt Public Services Association general secretary Anne Gardiner and Bathurst-based regional organiser Kylie McKelvie are worried about cuts to the public sector- including TAFE. PICTURE: Gavin Schimidt

By Erica Visser

Public services jobs are on the chopping block but no one cares because the State Government had “demonised” the workers, according to their union.

Two representatives of the Public Services Association (PSA) of NSW were in Broken Hill yesterday to discuss concerns over the government’s keenness for privatising public services.

PSA regional organiser Kylie McKelvie represents 220 employees in the city and said that the public should be worried about the plans for TAFE, where cuts have been confirmed.

“They just keep on slashing us and we’re finding out about it through this slow drip of information,” Ms McKelvie said.

“TAFE are concerned about their restructure and local Ageing and Disability services and community service offices are also in line.”

The PSA represents public sector workers such as correctional officers, school administration support staff, police station employees and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) workers. 

 

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PSA general secretary Anne Gardiner was visiting the city for the first time to speak about the matter.

“I’m visiting Broken Hill to raise the alarm about the massive changes the O’Farrell Government has planned for the way public services are delivered in NSW,” she said.

“Barry O’Farrell appears to be quite a benign premier when in fact he’s currently making the biggest changes to how services are delivered in NSW that we’ve seen in more than a generation.”

Ms Gardiner said that the Government was getting away with the slashing of 15,000 jobs because it had “demonised” public servants and was using misleading terms.

“This government has an ideology of privatisation that hasn’t been understood by people in the State and the first step was to demonise public sectors workers and tell people that all services, in the long term, can be held by the private sector.

“The reason I’m particularly concerned is that no one seems to be fully appreciating what is going to happen.

“Fifteen thousand public service workers are currently losing their jobs and there has been no response...yet 300 workers in a manufacturing plant lose their jobs and it’s a disaster.”

She put this down to the government’s support by “big business” and tabloid newspapers. 

Ms Gardiner said that the government was following an approach used by the government in the United Kingdom which, she said, misled the public into believing privatisation was better.

“People were led to believe that the UK government was going to provide more choice for communities in how their services were delivered when this wasn’t actually the case,” she said.

“The NSW Government is doing the same thing. The premier put out a misleading media release last week announcing a one-stop shop for the RMS, the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry and Fair Trading.”    

Within the release, Mr O’Farrell said that the government was “delivering on the expectation” that public services were as good as private ones.

“Customers rightly expect the same quality of service from government as they receive from their favourite airline or retailer,” Mr O’Farrell said.

But Ms Gardiner said that the quality of public services was already better than privatised ones.

“I would say that the services we currently provide are far better than the banks and airlines provide,” she said.

“Public services are dealing with complex societal issues that cannot possibly be compared with the type of work an airline or a bank is doing and this is part of the simplistic approach that’s being taken by the O’Farrell Government.”

Ms Gardiner said it was hard to know which jobs would be hit next, given the government’s “secretive” approach to “cutting jobs and devolving all responsibility” to directors-general across the State.

“The response is that this is managers managing and how they achieve this is up to them. 

“That’s fine if you’re running a corner shop, but if you’re running NSW you need a plan.”

Ms Gardiner said she had recently seen biosecurity employees and workers with science and engineering skills lose their jobs.

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