Public sector workers listening to the Assistant Secretary of Unions NSW, Mark Lennon, outside the electorate office of Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser.
Public sector workers listening to the Assistant Secretary of Unions NSW, Mark Lennon, outside the electorate office of Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser. Bruce Thomas

Workforce revolt hits Coast

ANDREW Fraser's current political honeymoon has come to an abrupt end.

The Nationals' Member for Coffs Harbour may have been absent but his electorate office felt the full weight of public service indignation yesterday over the state government's planned new industrial relations laws.

Those laws for public sector workers are due to be passed by the NSW Parliament next week.

Teachers, nurses, firefighters, police and other public service workers are angry and upset that the Coffs

Harbour MP and his Upper House colleague Melinda Pavey voted for the legislation, which will remove the Industrial Relations Commission's power to be the final arbiter of public service wages claims.

With chants of ‘shame, Andrew shame,' and choruses of ‘in the world, we have the worst member' more than 200 workers carrying banners and signs from the Teachers' Federation, Public Service Association, Health Services Union, Nurses Association, Police Association, Fire Brigade Employees' Union and the ALP gathered in Brelsford Park and marched down Park Avenue to Mr Fraser's office, accompanied by police cars and fire engines.

Rally organisers delivered a letter to Mr Fraser asking him to change his mind and vote against the legislation, which they say will give NSW public servants the worst workplace rights in the country, even below the hated WorkChoices.

Protesters also signed a petition, asking Mr Fraser and his Nationals colleagues Andrew Stoner and Leslie Williams to get rid of the unfair laws or resign and take the issue to a mandate of local people in a by-election.

They say the Nationals' support for the legislation, which caps public sector wages and has the potential to cut conditions, is a particular betrayal because those regional MPs know how much country towns rely on public services and public sector wages.

“For us young guys it's about retaining what we've got,” said teacher Craig Ellem, who attended the rally.

“My parents were teachers and they fought for their rights.”

Police are exempt from the new law for now but NSW Police Association spokesman Tony King asked: “If the law is so fair, why give police an exemption?”



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