Contributed from New South Wales
w South Wales is facing strikes by teachers and train and bus drivers, who are responding to state government spending cuts, privatisation of services, and falling safety conditions at work. The strikes begun this Monday.
Unrest has been rising as working conditions in Australia’s most populous state deteriorate. This is marked in the public sector, and especially in education and transport. NSW is saddled with a government set on doing all it can to cut what it can from spending on services and reducing the wages share.
The outcomes of these disputed will have consequences that will affect both the public and private sectors, where the issues of the decline in the quality of jobs, falling safety standards, and the shrinking wages share are an everyday reality.
Teachers and principals are walking off the job to address unsustainable workloads, poor wages, and teacher shortages. They are demanding a coherent strategy to recruit 11,000 teachers and pay increases of up to 7.5 percent a year, to address the decline in the value of wages. Without this, existing teachers will continue to quit in droves.
NSW Teachers Federation has presented documents providing evidence of the scale of the teacher shortage. This is the first teachers strike in more than a decade. The first day out of the schools starts today.
Photo by Taryn Southcombe/ABC News: major disruptions to rail services expected across New South Wales
Train drivers are refusing to operate foreign made trains that now make up 75 percent of the city’s fleet. They want a shift to local manufacturing and say that the foreign made trains are not safe enough, and they are angry about the government’s plan to privatise rail services. Train drivers plan to continue rolling strikes until an acceptable agreement has been reached.
Bus drivers are angry over the failure of the government to negotiate in good faith over a pay and conditions dispute. New drivers are being employed by labour hire contractor Transit Systems NSW under a different contract with lower wages. Drivers on the higher rate have been left out of shifts This is the reason 1,200 bus drivers in the inner west stopped work for 24 hours yesterday.
Photo from Bianca de Marchi/AAP: Bus drivers taking action on Monday
Schools and transport services are being seriously affected. Unions are blaming the intransigence and bloody-minded attitude of the NSW government.
The downside is that many ordinary people are disrupted by this industrial action. Most will understand that this is an unavoidable consequence and put the blame where it belongs.