A rally of firefighters, police and union officials in Wollongong yesterday vowed to fight NSW Government plans to cut 10,000 public service jobs.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said the cuts, expected to be confirmed in Tuesday’s budget, would amount to hundreds of jobs in the Illawarra.
“These are jobs we can well do without cutting in a region that is already in a depressed economic state,” he said.
VOTE: Are you satisfied with Barry O’Farrell’s performance?
MORE: Thousands of public sector jobs face axe
Nurses, teachers and emergency service workers were expected to be shielded from the axe wielding, but it was feared those frontline workers would end up doing the paperwork previously carried out by colleagues lost in the job cuts.
“The distinction between frontline and support jobs is a false one – every frontline worker knows they can’t carry out their job without a support team,” said Shane Elliott, Public Service Association acting regional organiser.
NSW Police Association branch official Bob Minns said Wollongong police faced losing one administrative staff member, whose role would have to be filled by a police officer.
“That’s one more police officer we’ll have to take off the road and put in the station,” he said.
Mr Minns said administrative staff had already been cut from 11 to eight in recent years, and the downsizing had always meant a reassignment of duties for police.
Fire and Rescue NSW employees’ delegate Andrew Haas said if frontline staff were commandeered for administrative work, it would mean fewer officers on the frontline, placing theirs and the public’s safety in jeopardy.
Mr Rorris said there was “no more fat to cut” in the public service.
“Working people here in the region will not cop continual attacks on the workforce and on our rights,” he said.
“This is not good enough for a government that was elected to fix NSW. If this is the way they’re going to fix it, then God help the Illawarra.”