Teachers from across the Shoalhaven region rallied alongside other public sector workers including fire fighters, police, nurses and school support staff outside of Shoalhaven City Council on Tuesday June 28, in protest at the O’Farrell Governments wages policy.
Inside the council chambers, Christian Democrat Paul Green and Member for Kiama Gareth Ward were attending the regular council meeting and refused requests to come out and address the one hundred strong crowd of public sector workers.
In addressing the rally President of the FBEU Darin Sullivan expressed grave concern that communities would be put at risk because of this draconian legislation. Darin stated “we’re fearful that we’ll be forced to look at staffing levels across the state and what that means is fewer fire fighters on the ground and for the community that means fewer fire fighters responding to fire incidents, rescues on our roads even threats of terrorism. This legislation will ultimately put our communities at risk”.
Teachers were well represented at the rally with a number of new teachers attending their first rally in the region. Shoalhaven Teachers Association Secretary Bob Mortyn said “It’s really disappointing that we have two Shoalhaven Alderman, who are in State Parliament, with two jobs, and they’ve told public sector workers 2.5% is all they are going to get”.
Organiser for the Teachers Federation Nicole Calnan said “Last week Gareth Ward labelled a protest by teachers outside his office as a ‘stunt’. Not only is this irrational, it is completely offensive to those teachers who were in attendance and it is a clear indication that Mr Ward does not share the same concern about the impact his government’s legislation will have on the learning environments of our students.
Secretary of the South Coast Labour Council in concluding the rally articulated the effects that this legislation will have on the Shoalhaven community “Shoalhaven Mayor Paul Green and Councillor Gareth Ward have voted in favour of laws in the NSW Parliament that are worse than WorkChoices.
Aside from the impact on public sector workers themselves, this legislation will have financial impacts on the local community and potentially the quality of the public services being delivered.”