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Issue #1559      8 August 2012

Qld unions plan state-wide strike

Queensland unions have announced a state-wide strike on September 12 in response to the new Liberal National Party (LNP) government’s plans to sack thousands of public sector workers. Delegates from 34 unions at a meeting of the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) voted unanimously to support the day of industrial action. The date is the day after the Newman movement hands down its first budget.

The QCU reports Premier Newman as saying more than 4,400 public sector positions had been cut, and at least another 15,000 were expected through to the September 11 Budget. The government has put a freeze on renewing thousands of contracts that come up for renewal at the end of July and in August. It is refusing to reveal how many.

QCU president John Battams said the announcement of 2,000 job cuts in the Transport Department on July 31 highlights the need for transparency around the contracts and bonuses of senior bureaucrats.

The QCU has called on the LNP government to respond to claims that some public service chiefs are being paid performance bonuses or other incentives for sacking or “booting out” workers.

“… if bonuses or incentives are being offered to meet job cut targets, we need to know which bureaucrats are in line for the bonuses and which departments and how many workers are in the firing line,” Battams said.

“It’s a worry if there is a personal financial incentive to sack people, and I hope it’s not true.”

It was confirmed last week that workers at the government‐owned printer GoPrint will be joining the growing queue of unemployed. “The closure is to take effect virtually immediately,” AMWU assistant state secretary Danny Doherty said.

The union also accused the government of breaking pre-election promises not to privatise. “The government will strip out the publicly‐owned assets of GoPrint for the benefit of private sector, and then retain just a few workers and say it’s not privatisation. That’s just sneaky and has been the LNP’s tactics with GoPrint all along,” Mr Dougherty said.

“Workers at GoPrint have been a political football over the past few weeks and now the government has revealed its true intention to ignore its ‘no privatisation’ promise,” he said. GoPrint, a 150‐year‐old, publicly‐owned asset, which ensures that important state documents are printed properly and securely, will now be cut up and flogged off to the highest bidder.

Another 50 jobs will go at Q Fleet’s vehicle maintenance repair facility in Zillmere, and another 100 jobs at government furniture agents SDS.

“These are long‐term permanent workers who have families and mortgages. It’s going to be a hard time ahead for them,” Doherty said.

Public Works Minister Bruce Flegg and Premier Newman “are happy for important government documents to be printed anywhere, which raises alarming security concerns,” Mr Dougherty said.

“More importantly, another 200 Queenslanders are now out of work. These are real people…

“It’s time this government looked at the human impact of its political agenda,” he said.

Strong support for state-wide strike

Allison Welch from the Teachers Union said their 44,000 members support the day of action. “We have to fight to represent the people that are in our classrooms, the next generation of Queenslanders,” she said.

“They are going to have to wake up and find that they’ve got no jobs because there aren’t any because the public service has been cut.”

President of the United Firefighters Union Mark Dearlove said the state-wide strike will send a clear message. “Stand side-by-side and let the government know that we’re against unfair legislation being pushed through Parliament to bash unions,” he said.

“We’re against conditions being stripped from our awards and our agreements.”

Phil Blair from the construction union said builders are supporting the campaign. “We’re not just going to stand by and let [Campbell Newman] undo everything the unions have done in this state,” he said.

Nurse Karen Shepherd said public sector cuts will put extra pressure on the health system. “If people out in the communities are losing their jobs it has a domino effect because what happens is that they can’t afford to go to a GP and get medications,” she said.

“So they leave things too late and you can just see how this effects everybody – it’s a ripple effect.”

Unions say the day of action will be the start of a long campaign.  

Next article – NSW firefighters fight funding cuts

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