Cessnock Council Seeks Information from Unions

Cessnock Council Seeks Information from Unions
Media Release 4.8.11

Cessnock Council will ask unions what impact the NSW Governments Industrial Relations laws would have on the local community.

Councillor last night supported a motion from Greens Councillor James Ryan to seek input from unions representing Teachers, Police, Firefighters, Ambulance Officers, child protection workers and Nurses.

‘Many people are worried that the pressure to keep essential services workers wages below the rate of inflation will result in regional communities like Cessnock finding it harder to attract staff to our hospitals, schools, police and fire stations.’ said Councillor Ryan.  ‘I am also worried that the eroding wages of essential services will mean a greater turnover of staff and the loss of skills to the private sector. The cumulative effect will be a lower level of services to the community of Cessnock and Kurri.’

The Council was addressed by a union representative from Cessnock Fire Station, James Barrie, who said half of the fire stations in the Cessnock LGA were not always available to respond now and if further ‘productivity’ gains were required for firefighters to maintain real wages the most likely result would be a further reduction in time the Fire Stations were available to respond to emergencies.

Mr Barrie said ‘The industrial laws leave fire-fighters with the impossible choice of either accepting wage increases of 2.5% (below inflation) and therefore having a declining standard of living for their families – or further reducing services to the community.’

Clr Ryan said ‘In the past Cessnock Council has campaigned strongly to have Cessnock Prison remain in public hands, we have campaigned strongly to have maternity services retained at Cessnock Hospital and we have campaigned strongly to have more Police stationed at Cessnock and the Station opened 24hrs.’

‘Council has been successful in all those campaigns. The new industrial laws have the potential to whittle away all of the gains we have made in these areas over the past few years. I look forward to receiving from each of the Unions representing our workers their detailed analysis of the impacts on Cessnock.’

James Ryan

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