Cessnock Council last night voted against allowing members of the NSW Fire Brigade Union to address the Council on the impact that the new O’Farrell industrial laws will have on the Cessnock Community.

Those voting against allowing the unionists to speak included the two ALP Councillors in the meeting, James Hawkins and Jeff Maybury.

Green Councillor James Ryan said ‘If the ALP Councillors had supported  allowing a  Unionist to address Cessnock Council we would have heard of the terrible impact the NSW Governments new industrial laws will have on Cessnock.’

‘I understand from talking to representatives of the Fire Brigades Employees Union who had asked to speak at the meeting that several Fire Station are periodically closed down in the area.  They were concerned that with the type of cost pressures which will be imposed on the Fire Brigade by these new laws that Stations at Kurri, Weston, Abermain, Kearsley and Bellbird will be closed more often.’

‘This will leave our community less protected than before.’

‘Fire Fighters are not the only people affected. Teachers, Police, Prison Officers and Nurses will all be in the position of having to choose on one hand between accepting falling real wages, and on the other providing a lower standard of services for the community in return for their wages keeping pace with inflation.’

‘For the community of Cessnock this could mean more children per classroom, it may mean less Police on the street, it may mean less nurses per patient.  These are service compromises that we can ill afford.’

Councillor Ryan said  ‘It is a great shame the NSW Government is reducing services to local communities.’

‘It is also a great shame that Labor Party Councillors voted to not allow local Fire Fighters to speak at Council meeting about the laws.’

Cessnock Council voted against the motion to write to the NSW Premier express opposition to the Governments abandoning of NSW’s 100 year old tradition of having an independent umpire to resolve industrial disputes. Labor Councillor Jeff Maybury was among those voting against.

James Ryan

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