Queensland unions appreciate Shorten’s help

By Paul Hemsley

Public sector unions are grateful for Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten’s $850,000 package to help axed workers in the Queensland Government.

As a result of Premier Campbell Newman’s controversial slashing of about 14,000 public sector roles, ex-employees will be forced to look for suitable work in the private sector, move interstate or take a role in local government.

The federal government has intervened with this package to address the needs of these ex-employees with jobs and skills expos and information workshops.

It is an attempt to address the Queensland Government’s dilemma in facing an unemployment rate of six per cent from its current figure at below five per cent as workers.

The Queensland Teachers Union (QTU), the Australian Medical Association of Queensland (AMAQ) and the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) have given this package a positive response.

QTU president, Kevin Bates said it’s a “miniscule amount” but the federal government is trying to offer support services and training opportunities with the package.

Mr Bates said it won’t necessarily come down to an allocation per person but it might support some programs so people get access to vacant jobs.

“It’s certainly a concern that the federal government feels the need to intervene in a state where we’ve got these indiscriminate sackings,” Mr Bates said.

Mr Bates said these job losses are having a “huge impact” on not only the Queensland economy, so the federal government is trying to prevent that from dragging down the rest of the country.

“It’s appropriate for a federal government to take action and to try and support workers who have lost their jobs as a consequence of this government’s slash and burn mentality,” Mr Bates said.

Mr Bates cited Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer’s offer of $250,000 to help sacked workers as a significant boost to the government’s package that can help ex-employees look for other jobs.

An LGAQ spokesperson said local councils may use the expos as an opportunity to recruit qualified staff.

“It would be up to the individual council. With their qualifications, they could be taken up by a council, but it’s too early to tell,” the spokesperson said.

AMAQ president, Dr Alex Markwell said job expos sound like a reasonable proposal.

“I think if it brings together people who have skill sets in an environment where we still need health care workers,” Dr Markwell said.

She said the Northern Territory government has advertised in Queensland to recruit doctors and nurses.

“We still have a national workforce shortage when it comes to doctors and nurses, we will for some time.

“These doctors and nurses will most likely find positions somewhere but these people have got families and roots in various towns throughout Queensland.

She said it will likely mean “significant upheaval” for these people to find ongoing employment.

“We do know that there are positions throughout Australia, it’s just a matter of finding them and matching up services with the jobs,” she said.

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