Sunday 21 April 2024

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Contact 1800 772 679

The magazine of the Public Service Association of NSW and the Community and Public Sector Union (NSW Branch)

THE PUBLIC SECTOR NEEDS A PAY RISE

PSA members take to the streets

Throughout NSW, PSA members let the State Government know they were angry about the wage restraint that sends their income backwards.

Throughout NSW, PSA members let the State Government know they were angry about the wage restraint that sends their income backwards.

There is no evidence to counter the basic premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly rain events. When heavy rain in 2000 devastated parts of Britain, a later study found the climate change had doubled the chances of the flood occurring, said Julia Slingo.

From Tweed Heads by the Queensland border, to Broken Hill just outside South Australia, PSA members left their workplaces and took to the streets demanding the State Government give them a real pay rise.

A final resolution from the 2022 Annual Conference (see previous pages) was a state-wide Day of Action, including a strike, if the State Government did not give Public Sector workers a pay increase that kept up with inflation rates that are now running rampant.

As expected, the State Government largely ignored the PSA’s demands, giving a last minute offer of a thee per cent increase, including superannuation, just before the planned Day of Action. The fuse was lit and the PSA was ready to take to the streets.

In the morning chill of Wednesday, 8 June, PSA members began to gather throughout the state. The largest group assembled in Hyde Park in Sydney, about 7000 people filling Macquarie Street as they marched to State Parliament.

Some members came from out of town to attend the rally, with buses arriving from gaols in Cessnock, Goulburn and Lithgow. A big contingent of Illawarra attended.

“It was wonderful to stand as Fisheries Officers across the state in solidarity with the rest of the Public Sector to fight for and demand a fair and reasonable pay rise so that our members can simply keep a roof over their heads and pay the bills,” said one attendee, Joe Wright, Acting Chair of the Fisheries Officers Vocational Branch.
In Wagga Wagga, Sheriff’s Officer Glenn Elliott-Rudder joined a march through the city, telling television news audiences that members’ demands were not as extravagant as the – much cheaper – platitudes heaped on Public Sector workers by the State Government.

“We hear the Premier calling us heroes,” he told Prime& News. “Well, I’m not Captain America, I’m not Thor, I just want a decent pay rise.”

In Newcastle, nearly 1000 members turned up, confirming the city’s long tradition as a staunch union town.

Marchers travelled to the city’s Town Hall, where they viewed a live feed of the Sydney event.

About 100 marchers braved freezing conditions in Bathurst, where Prison Officers Vocational Branch Assistant Secretary Andrew Brown told news crews “we haven’t stopped”, working on through the pandemic while much of the rest of the workforce stayed home.

IN BROKEN HILL, MEMBERS WERE SO DETERMINED TO HAVE THEIR SAY THEY QUICKLY ORGANISED A GATHERING IN THE CITY’S CENTRE

“Three per cent is not enough, ” he said. “We are still coming to work in full PPE, still fighting COVID.”

A large crowd in Tamworth received plenty of media attention.

In chilly Dubbo, a large number of Correctional Officers from Wellington boosted a healthy, loud crowd.

In Grafton, numbers were bolstered by Prison Officers from Kempsey, who took a two-hour bus ride to lend their voices to the PSA’s demands.

Members in Broken Hill were so determined to have their say, they quickly organised a gathering in the city’s centre, while a collection of members appeared at the Tweed Heads office of Nationals MP Geoff Provest, who must be beginning to worry about his seat’s five per cent margin.

In Sydney, marchers ended a short walk up Macquarie Street to State Parliament, a building Assistant General Secretary Troy Wright pointed out to the crowd was “built by the Public Sector, is run by the Public Sector, and should be accountable to the Public Sector”.

Mr Wright said that despite this history, the Perrottet Government “is not listening to the Public Sector.

Secretary of Unions NSW Mark Morey said the Government’s failure to fill

positions was creating overwork and longer hours for many Public Sector workers. He said the Premier’s plans to fill vacant health positions is doomed to fail while wages were so low.

He said the issues faced by Public Sector workers came down to a lack of respect from the Premier.

PSA Vice-President Juliette Sizer talked about the strain on schools, while members “continued to work on the frontline”.

“More often than not, it was our members who physically remained on site to keep our schools operational,” she said. “It is our members who distributed the rapid antigen tests to families and today it is our members who work face-to-face with the largest unvaccinated population in our state.

“We don’t want a pay rise, we need a pay rise and it starts at 5.2 per cent. Anything else is a cut to out living wage and a drop in our standards of living.”

Child Protection Case Officer Allison Corrigan said her colleagues never stopped working as COVID gripped NSW.

“With humility, little fanfare, and often clothed in advanced PPE, during the Delta lockdown, Child Protection Workers kept seeing children,” she said. “We went to homes, refuges, children in residential care, police stations, hospitals and schools.

“Our Child Protection Workers on the Helpline answered every call. Case Workers assessed every report for every child.”

Ms Corrigan said the low pay for Child Protection Workers led to a horrendous rate of resignations. She said 40 per cent

of university-educated Case Workers will resign within two years, giving children in care inconsistent attention.

“Give us the resources to do our job,” said Ms Corrigan. “Our workers, our children deserve no less.”

PSA/CPSU NSW President Nicole Jess told the crowd “this turnout today says one significant thing: we’ve had enough”.

“We have had enough of the wage cap and of being disrespected,” she said. “This government has shown again it has lost touch with the people who kept NSW running.”

General Secretary Stewart Little praised “the beautiful sight” of members gathered outside Parliament House.

“It is a disgrace that frontline workers have to go on strike to send a message to

Premier Perrottet,” he said. “We’re tired of waiting for a fair pay rise.”

Not all members could walk off the job. Due to their vital role protecting NSW, Radio Operations Group and PoliceLink staff from around the state of NSW, instead ignored uniform rules and wore campaign shirts and implemented some work bans.

“All actions taken by staff ensured the general public were never placed in danger or harm’s way, we continued taking 000 calls, and coordinating the police response to incidents,” said Michael Petersen, Senior Communications Office with NSW Police. “We ensured there was always an alternative method for police to obtain the information they required to maintain Officer safety.”

In addition, Special Constables were unable to walk off the job, with many giving support from the balcony of Parliament House.

Members in areas such as Community Services made sure there were sufficient staff on hand so no children at risk would be denied help.

In the wake of the Day of Action, Stewart Little praised all the members who

did their part “to alert the state to the injustice of demanding the people who did so much for NSW take a cut to their real wages”.

“We aren’t asking for much, we just don’t think we should be taking home less money in real terms for the fantastic work we all do,” he said.

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