Saturday, June 14, 2008


Unions seize chance to press pay claims

Brian Robins, smh

June 14, 2008

PUBLIC sector employees have lost little time hitting the new acting Industrial Relations Minister and the new acting Education Minister with demands - the NSW Teachers Federation threatening more strikes as its members protest about changes to the transfer system.

The teachers union wants to hold talks with the Premier, Morris Iemma, in an attempt to avoid an escalation of their dispute.

The Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, was appointed acting Education Minister yesterday and the Roads Minister, Eric Roozendaal, acting Industrial Relations Minister, a sensitive job at a time when a host of public sector unions are seeking wage rises of about 4 to 5 per cent rather than the 2.5 per cent cap the Iemma Government is proposing.

"How much negotiation will take place place with an acting minister?" Bob Lipscombe, deputy president of the NSW Teachers Federation, asked. "We're keen to have the Premier enter the negotiations to bring about a political settlement. If that is not achieved, there will be further industrial action.

"People in acting positions are reluctant to take too much action. You really need someone substantial to hold the position to make the decisions without a minster."

It may be six weeks or more until the police investigations into the events at Iguanas are finished, leaving several crucial negotiations in limbo.

Over recent months a number of disruptions have occurred as ministers have been stood down or left the ministry.

NSW teachers went on strike for a day recently to protest about changes to their staffing system and are preparing for new award negotiations, demanding at least a 5 per cent-a-year wage rise and better superannuation.

Fire brigade employees were also quick off the mark, calling for Mr Roozendaal to override the 2.5 per cent cap on salary rises imposed by Treasury.

"We call on the new Industrial Relations Minister to reconsider the 2.5 per cent cap for firefighters," Simon Flynn, NSW state secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, said. "It is time for this Government to get more in step with other state governments around Australia, who are all offering more."