100 local jobs at risk

THE Clarence Valley has no mining boom to boast about so the potential loss of 100 jobs under the O'Farrell Government's planned cuts would have devastating flow-on effects for the local community, Unions Mid North Coast secretary Wayne Webber said yesterday.

Mr Webber was responding to questions about today's teachers' strike and statewide rallies planned for 11.30am - including one in Grafton's Market Square.

"There are 4000 NSW public sector workers in the Clarence Valley," Mr Webber said. "The government yesterday talked about cutting 5000 jobs - that's about 50 jobs from each electorate ... now they've told every department to cut their budgets by 1.5 per cent.

"That's amounts to another 6000 job cuts throughout the state."

Mr Webber said nurses, police, firefighters and other public servants would join in today's rally, which was aimed at fighting industrial laws which left NSW public sector workers with fewer industrial rights than any other worker in Australia.

He said the proposals offered workers even fewer rights than under John Howard's WorkChoices while stripping away the independence of the Industrial Relations Commission.

One of the issues at the centre of the dispute is the O'Farrell Government's plan to limit annual pay increases to 2.5% for the vast majority of the public sector which, according to Teachers Federation president Bob Lipscombe, means a real wage reduction for teachers, considering inflation is running at 3.6%.

Today's strike by 67,000 NSW teachers is in defiance of an Industrial Relations Commission order made late yesterday which called upon the Teachers' Federation to not take industrial action.

Mr Webber said action such as today's strike and rally would continue indefinitely until the laws were repealed.

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