On Thursday 8 September, public-sector workers in New South Wales, Australia, will strike and rally against moves by the new Liberal state premier, Barry O’Farrell, to cut jobs, pay, and workers’ rights.
O’Farrell has legislated to have public-sector workers’ pay rises set by law, and at rates below inflation, with any bigger rise “paid for” by cuts and speed-up as valued by the state Treasury. This means that industrial action over pay and conditions becomes unlawful.
The New South Wales Teachers’ Federation has called on members to strike for 24 hours. O’Farrell has gone to the state Industrial Relations Commission to try to get the strike outlawed. The usually very un-militant state Public Service Association has called on members to stop work for long enough to get to the protest rallies. The Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and the Nurses’ Association are expected to mobilise while delivering emergency cover.
The central Sydney rally on 8 September should be huge. But the union leaders have no stated plan for action after that.
Workers’ Liberty Australia activists have been involved in getting a leaflet sponsored by the Power to the People group, the NSW Union Activists’ Network, the Activist Teachers’ Network, and Progressive PSA, calling for more action:
• Strikes, stopworks, and bans;
• Solidarity if unions or unionists are penalised for unlawful industrial action;
• Organise workplace meetings and community campaign groups.
The groups also call for demonstrators to meet after the big 8 September rally to discuss links and strategy.