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NSW: Stop the sell off!

Unions NSW and power industry delegates today launched their campaign to 'Stop the Sell Off' of the state's electricity industry proposed by the NSW Government.

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A $380,000 sales pitch to promote the privatisation of the state's electricity system has been started by the Premier, Morris Iemma, and his Treasurer, Michael Costa. But they could be wasting taxpayers' money, an opinion poll shows.

A survey of 1011 NSW voters, conducted by Essential Research for Unions NSW, found 85 per cent of people oppose privatising the electricity supply, while 96 per cent fear private operators would force up the cost of electricity. SOURCE

Stop Iemma selling public assets and jobs
A solidarity letter to NSW power industry unionists

Dear fellow unionists,

We are a group of workers and unionists most of whom, like you, work in the New South Wales public sector.

Others work and belong to unions in the private sector.

We are writing to express our solidarity and unconditional support for your fight against the decision of the government of Morris Iemma to privatise energy generation in this state.

Many of us have already experienced privatisation. We know that, whatever the immediate “bribes” they offer the workers involved (job and condition “guarantees”, transfer payments etc), privatisation eventually means fewer jobs, loss of conditions and dearer services to the community.

Look what’s happened in other states. In Queensland, on July 1, the first day of privatised energy, tariffs went up by 11.7%. (The companies said they had to cover the advertising costs of competing among themselves for customers!)

Just as importantly, private energy means our environment will suffer. Once energy generation is privatised it will be much harder to develop a pro-environment energy policy that tackles global warming.

Iemma won the March 2007 election by promising to defend workers’ rights. At the mass rally of public sector workers in Sydney Town Hall he told us that our jobs were safe, but he didn’t breathe a word about privatising energy.

But we shouldn’t be surprised at the turnaround.

NSW Labor governments have already privatised rail maintenance, government printing and mail and lots of administrative work. What’s for sale next? Ferries? Waste Services? Schools? Hospitals? TAFEs? Roads?

This fight can be won. Just as the “Your Rights at Work” union-community campaign got rid of Howard’s Work Choices, a similar campaign can stop the attack on the rights of NSW power industry workers and consumers. Of course, the Iemma government has learned the lessons of Labor’s failure to privatise electricity generation in 1999, and of the successful union-community campaign that blocked the privatisation of Snowy Hydro in 2006.

They know that the vast majority of the community remains opposed to privatisation. So they will try to divide energy workers from the community by offering short-term benefits to persuade the workers to sell their jobs. Also, if their bait is taken the next generation of workers will not have the security of public employment.

Their divide-and-rule tactic must be defeated. We look forward to Unions NSW using this delegates’ meeting to launch the sort of campaign that can stick Iemma’s plan in the dustbin. That means making sure no group of public sector workers is left to fight this battle on their own. At the end of the day all public sector workers are in the firing line of leasing, sub-contracting and all the other ways of disguising and advancing privatisation.

We all need to stand together. A mass delegates meeting of all public sector unions to discuss industrial and community strategies to support the struggle against energy privatisation should be convened as soon as possible.

Stop privatisation now!

Yours in solidarity

  • Jim Casey—Senior Vice-President, Fire Brigade Employees Union
  • Beatriz Bassi – NSW Public Service Association, delegate
  • Stephen O'Brien—NSW Public Service Association, delegate
  • Susan Price—Branch president, National Tertiary Education Union, University of New South Wales
  • Dick Nichols—Former Secretary (1985-89), Combined Unions, Eveleigh Loco railway workshops
  • Leon Parissi—NSW Public Service Association, delegate
  • Vivienne Porzsolt— NSW Public Service Association, delegate
  • Beatrice Scheepers—NSW Public Service Association, delegate
  • Graham Rees—NSW Public Service Association, delegate
  • Sally Reader—NSW Public Service Association, delegate
  • David Curran—NSW Public Service Association, delegate
  • Dom Rowe—NSW Public Service Association, delegate
  • Pat Donohue—NSW Teachers Federation, delegate
  • Howard Byrnes—Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, delegate (Botany Cranes)
  • John Gauci— NSW Teachers Federation, councillor
  • Raul Bassi—Transport Workers Union, delegate
  • John Tognolini—former member, Painters and Dockers Union, Cockatoo Island Dockyard
  • Jo De Pietro—Health Services Union, delegate
  • Noreen Navin—-NSW Teachers Federation Councillor, Vice President Canterbury-Bankstown Branch
  • Sibylle Kaczorek—Australian Services Union, delegate
  • Jenny Long—NSW Teachers Federation
For more information: Bea Bassi 0425 232 096 (Sydney) Stephen O’Brien 0409 878 485

(union positions for identification purposes only)

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