Sunday, June 05, 2011


Red News Readers,

I started this blog as a means to convey information against the Howard Government's Workchoices. This blog hasn't been as active as it should have been due to my busy life, but it now looks like there is another campaign building against O'Farrell's Workchoices, and this blog is going to need to be revived. This loss for the unions is only the first round, but now the struggle begins for public sector wage justice in NSW.

Jenny Haines

Historic loss for unions

Alicia Wood, smh.

June 5, 2011
BARRY O'FARRELL delivered a historic blow to the union movement yesterday, as the upper house all but passed controversial industrial relations changes that have been likened to Work Choices.

The legislation will come before the Legislative Council again next week, for a final read, before it moves to the lower house.

The Premier said the changes would save NSW about $2 billion.

The move came about after the Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, invoked an obscure rule, last used in 1906, to torpedo debate on the legislation, which had already run for 29 hours.

Under the government's changes, public sector workers would have their wage rises capped at 2.5 per cent. Higher increases would have to be matched by savings.

The bill removes the Industrial Relations Commission's power to set public sector wages and hands it to the government.

Unions NSW and the opposition called it ''worse than Work Choices'' and said the government should have gone to the election with the policy.

Labor said the legislation would prove the government's undoing. ''The revival of NSW Labor will stem from this legislation passed today … We won't be the lazy, pea-hearted opposition you were for 16 years,'' Labor MP Luke Foley screamed.

The Opposition Leader, John Robertson, said he would speak to workers this week to explain the implications and encourage them to put pressure on their local MPs.

''Workers have fought for more than a century to secure the wages and conditions they have today in our schools and hospitals, our fire stations and other public sector workplaces,'' he said. ''What's taken 100 years to achieve has been overturned by the Premier in a single day.''

The government insisted it was merely implementing a policy devised by the Labor Party.

Unions were furious last night and had begun plotting a campaign of marches and stop-work meetings. ''Everything is on the table right now,'' a source said. ''The level of anger is intense.''

Mr Gay said he ended the three-day filibuster because Labor and Greens MPs were being ''juvenile''.

''I took a historic step, one that I thought long and hard about … they were playing university politics games,'' Mr Gay said.

''We're not shutting them down; we're giving them a chance to analyse the legislation, rather than having boys' and girls' games with who can speak the longest.''

He rejected claims that his move amounted to the last government's proroguing of Parliament to avoid scrutiny into the electricity sale.

Greens MPs David Shoebridge and John Kaye each spoke for almost six hours on the reforms. Five opposition MPs clocked a total of 13 hours.

Mr Gay said the bill was not complex enough to warrant the amount of debate, which began on Thursday. In a move that further provoked furore, the government locked MPs in until the bill was passed.

This led to a stream of formal questions by opposition MPs about when they would go to the toilet, how they would take medication, and what would happen if a fire alarm went off.

The marathon three-day sitting of the Legislative Council tested the patience and stamina of MPs, many of whom slept in their offices on Thursday and Friday nights. The strain was evident, with members on both sides of the chamber trading personal insults.

Labor's Mick Veitch made an emotional appeal to his colleagues, and cried when he said: ''I've been troubled by where we are.''

The Nationals' Melinda Pavey flew her daughter Emily, 8, down from Coffs Harbour on Friday evening when she realised she would not get home for the weekend. Emily slept in her office until after 11pm on Friday night, when debate was suspended.