Outcry at wages bill

THE O'Farrell government's push to bypass the Industrial Relations Commission for public sector wages and conditions would suit a communist dictatorship, but not the NSW public sector, a Grafton-based Police Association spokesman said yesterday.

Detective Tony King said the association had received more than 5000 emails from disgruntled police and friends of police since the controversial bill was presented to parliament on Tuesday night.

Under the changes, wages and conditions, including leave entitlements, will be set by the NSW Government rather than the Industrial Relations Commission.

“Any sort of legislation that allows governments to change wages and conditions willy-nilly is not on,” Detective King said.

Unions NSW claims the changes will give public sector workers fewer rights than any other group of workers in Australia.

Premier Barry O'Farrell said wage rises of more than 2.5% would be matched to productivity improvements, but that workers would be no worse off.

“Public servants will get a fair rate of pay. Public servants should have no concerns because there's been no change to any of their conditions or entitlements under this policy.”

Mr O'Farrell defended the move to take away the commission's independence.

“There's no point having a government wages policy if it can be ignored. That's unaffordable. That would send the state finances into further difficulties.”

Describing the proposal as “the most radical change to workplace laws in more than a century”, Unions NSW have dubbed the plan WorkChoices NSW – a reference to the Howard Government's widely condemned Industrial Relations policy which led to its demise in 2007.

“If passed, NSW public sector workers would be banned from negotiating their rights at work,” the Unions NSW website says.

“The Industrial Relations Commission would be sidelined, and the conditions of public sector workers would potentially be determined at the whim of the government.”

Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon welcomed the Government's offer to discuss the legislation with unions this week.

“But we're looking at a policy that will unravel more than a century of hard-won rights and conditions at work.

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