By Julian Bajkowski
A mass rally of New South Wales public sector workers protesting the O’Farrell government’s plans to slash around 10,000 jobs from agencies is primed to kick off a fresh round of industrial strife in the state as unions muscle-up to try and prevent sackings.
The Public Sector Association is urging its members to wear red when they walk off the job for a stop work meeting on Monday that is anticipated to bring the state’s bureaucracy to a temporary halt.
The planned NSW demonstration follows similar union-led mass protests in Queensland, the size of which caught the freshly elected government of Campbell Newman badly off-guard in terms of how deeply unpopular staff cuts are with the public.
Almost 50 meetings are planned around the state and members who cannot attend meetings have been told by the union to walk off the job for the half-day protest.
A Public Sector Association notice to members from General Secretary John Cahill issued on Wednesday confirmed that eleventh hour talks to with Minister for Industrial Relations and Treasurer Mike Baird to avert the industrial action had predictably failed.
The meeting between the Mr Baird and the union was called after the government lodged a dispute against the PSA’s plan for a stop work meeting with the NSW Industrial Relations Commission on the 28th of September.
Prior to the meeting with Mr Baird, the PSA had been asked to postpone or lift its industrial action, which the union has said it refused to do.
“Monday’s stop work was called to escalate our campaign because of the Government’s application to remove conditions from members, but it also continues the ongoing campaign opposing the wage cap, job cuts and the other attacks on our members and public sector workers generally,” Mr Cahill said.
The PSA has also upped its efforts to clarify to public servants what the legalities of the protest action are.
“Stop Works, and strikes, are not authorised under NSW law. There is no such thing as legal stop works. That’s why the management keeps saying they are unauthorised,” the union has told its members.
“However they happen. The union directing a stop work takes responsibility for it and as such members are protected. In this case the government has reinforced this aspect by saying there will be no victimisation of union members.”
The PSA has asked that Public Sector Association and Community and Public Sector Union members covered by federal awards use their leave entitlements for the protests. NSW members will lose four hours pay.
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