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'Corporatised' staff worries valid

Forest NSW staff on the Coffs Coast are anxious about Wednesday's announcement that the departmint will be corporatised.
Forest NSW staff on the Coffs Coast are anxious about Wednesday's announcement that the departmint will be corporatised. BRUCE THOMAS

ALMOST 100 Forest NSW employees on the Coffs Coast didn't have their fears of possibly losing their job allayed at an urgent meeting held on Wednesday.

Employees were officially informed by management at the meeting that the state government-owned Forests NSW will be corporatised.

Concerns raised by employees during the 90 minute meeting regarding the new corporate structure included possible job losses, working conditions and whether they were in fact still going to be public servants.

Public Service Association assistant general secretary Shane O'Brien attended the meeting and he said that there was very little detail in the responses given to the concerns raised.

"In general terms it was very broad brush stuff about how they're going to become corporatised and the legislative timeframe," Mr O'Brien said.

"They didn't really go into much about what it meant for people."

Mr O'Brien added that he believes the change will mean Forest NSW staff will no longer be considered public servants.

"They (staff) were told that they will be employed by the corporation now, not the government," he said.

The move to corporatisation has sparked fears that the move may be the first step towards privatisation of the organisation by the O'Farrell government.

Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said changing Forests NSW from a state trading enterprise to a state-owned corporation would improve its commercial performance.

Mr O'Brien said that history tells him that going down this path leads to privatisation and that he believes the concerns of Coffs Coast staff regarding this issue are justified.

"They've said that there's no plans for privatisation and I don't know that I can accept that on face value," he said.

"They said that there's no plans for job losses but they haven't qualified that by saying 'nothing stands still'."

Topics:  forest, government, nsw, public, service



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