Saturday, June 07, 2008


Red News Readers,

This story reflects the rhetoric of union officials in the heat of negotiations. We don't know what the outcome of those public sector negotiations are yet. Why 3.9% over only one year in the offer to nurses? What about the other 3 years? With what cost offsets? The Nurses Association are giving the vote to their branches next week. Lets hope the branches have the full facts before them when they make their decision. It seems the decision by nurses may be used as a benchmark for the rest of the public sector.

State Elections are 3 years away. Those negotiating wage outcomes know that by the time the election comes around, other factors become important, and whatever disappointment was felt at the time of the wage negotiations, fades into secondary importance against the need to re-elect an at least partly union friendly government. Anyone who believes for any length of time that the NSW Liberals are union friendly is nuts!

Jenny Haines

Wage cap angers Labor faithful

Andrew West, smh

June 7, 2008

TEACHERS, firefighters, nurses and other public sector workers are planning to turn on the Iemma Government at the next election, ousting it from up to 12 seats, according to confidential Labor research.

The research, obtained by the Herald, shows the decision by the Treasurer, Michael Costa, to cap public sector wage increases in Tuesday's budget at 2.5 per cent, below the inflation rate, could damage Labor in an arc of seats around metropolitan Sydney.

The data shows that nearly all the seats in western Sydney, the southern suburbs and the Central Coast have high numbers of school teachers and are held on margins of less than 10 per cent.

In the Blue Mountains, there are more than 2000 school teachers, making up almost 7 per cent of the workforce. Camden is home to at least 1600 school teachers, while Heathcote has close to 1400; Menai, 1500; Miranda, 1200; Penrith, 1300; The Entrance, 1000; and Wyong, 800.

Nurses are concentrated in the same seats, close to their workplaces at Campbelltown, Nepean, Liverpool, Gosford and Wyong hospitals. Nurses and teachers are key occupational groups in the inner-city seats of Marrickville and Balmain, which are vulnerable to a Greens takeover.

The Government's resolve appeared to weaken on Thursday, when it revised the pay increase for nurses up to 3.9 per cent. The Opposition slammed the offer as a "slap in the face for nurses".

Union leaders who campaigned for the Iemma Government at the last state election are now warming to the Coalition, because the Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, denounced the Howard government's industrial relations law immediately on becoming leader in April last year and jettisoned the policy of slashing 20,000 public sector jobs.

"The strong feeling among our members is that they are willing to walk away from the Government because it is forcing a wage cut on them," the Public Service Association's assistant secretary, Stephen Turner, told the Herald.

"The last state election was won because the Government gave a commitment to protect the public sector, but if this is no longer an issue, and if Mr O'Farrell continues to neutralise what were once problems, our members could easily vote for the Coalition."

The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Maree O'Halloran, who is pushing for a 5 per cent increase for members, said Mr O'Farrell's "positive statements about rewarding teachers properly" would win him goodwill in the profession.

Firefighters were "three-fourths down the road of dumping the Labor Party", said the secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, Simon Flynn, especially after Mr O'Farrell's strong support for "wage maintenance".

Mr Flynn said many of the state's retained, or part-time, firefighters were community leaders such as councillors or heads of chambers of commerce or service clubs. "They are the wrong people to get off side."

The endangered seats also include Drummoyne and Ryde, the seat of the Deputy Premier, John Watkins. His electorate is home to an estimated 950 teachers and 650 nurses and last year he suffered a swing of 9 per cent against him.