State Labor returned

April 2, 2007

The return of the lemma government at the recent state election came as no surprise to anyone as the policies of the major parties were revealed. The question now becomes what can we as firefighters expect from this government?

The short answer is we can expect nothing unless we fight for it. The government will be doing its best to reduce public sector expenditure in order to balance the books after a decade of economic mismanagement. The FBEU will be campaigning for increased wages and conditions with more jobs so that we can carry out all of the extra work expected of us. This will inevitably mean some sort of conflict between the state government and the Union. Whether this means we will be fighting a specific campaign on wages, improved superannuation, a push for more jobs or a combination of all these things will be determined by the Unions rank and file.

The Australian Labor Party ran its electoral campaign on two key issues. The Opposition’s promise to sack 20 000 public servants and the unspeakable damage that this would do to health, education, transport and emergency services. Also the Opposition’s promise to big business that if elected it would hand workers in NSW over to the Howard Governments Union busting WorkChoices legislation and strip us of rights we have held for over 100 years.

The Iemma government was elected on the back of a Trade Union movement campaigning against laws that would remove our rights to arbitration when disputes are deadlocked and our right to collectively bargain. Trade Unions fought for and won these rights and were never going to just roll over and give them up. Without the Trade Union movement and its campaign it is almost certain that this government would have been judged on its performance and not on what was presented as an alternative. If this had happened the result may have been entirely different.

While most of the Trade Union movement threw its weight behind the campaign to keep the Liberal Party out of government, big business and the entire print media threw its weight behind the State Opposition. All of the major newspapers carried editorials calling for the government to be booted out and the Opposition to have a turn at running NSW. If elected these people would almost certainly have frozen our wages and started to dismantle our Awards. The challenge for all NSW Trade Unions will now be to keep pressure on the Iemma government for the next four years and make sure it understands who saved its bacon.

Simon Flynn
State Secretary



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