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Stop NSW Labor's energy privatisation!

Union-community action can block Iemma’s energy privatisation ambush

“It’s a tried and true NSW Labor formula—wait until the holiday season is almost here, then ram your nasty plans through caucus while workers and the community are winding down for Christmas”, Beatriz Bassi, public servant and union delegate and coordinator of the Socialist Alliance’s New South Wales trade union committee, said today.

Beatriz was commenting on the decision of NSW premier Morris Iemma to privatise up to $15 billion worth of publicly owned energy generation assets.

“The union movement must resist Iemma’s Christmas ambush”, she said. “The Socialist Alliance fully supports the United Services Union’s opposition to energy privatisation, and pledges to mobilise its members and supporters in the campaign to block Labor’s plans to hand even more valuable assets to the corporate sector.”

Beatriz added: “Beginning with Margaret Thatcher in the UK we’ve seen over two decades of privatisation of basic services like energy, water and transport: the jury is now in. For the user, it means higher prices and less reliability, for the worker, less job security, for the environment, greater danger of pollution, but for the corporations, very, very fat and publicly guaranteed profits.

“Anyone who believes that privatisation will benefit consumers should check out the experience of Melbourne’s commuters, Adelaide’s electricity users, or remind themselves of Sydney’s cross-city tunnel and airport rail link.

“In Queensland, on the first day of privatised energy (July 1 this year), the corporate energy suppliers raised tariffs by 11.7%—partly to cover the advertising costs of competing among themselves for customers!”

The Socialist Alliance spokesperson also scored the hypocritical double-talk of the Iemma government. “Back in March, when he was facing the voters, Iemma made a commitment to a public meeting of 1500 public servants that, if re elected, Labor would maintain the size of the public sector to underpin the provision of services and jobs. He also hid his rabidly pro-corporate treasurer, Michael Costa, from public view.

“But no-one should be surprised by this latest decision, because under premiers Carr and Iemma NSW Labor has been quietly preparing the grounds for this large scale privatisation by subtly introducing partial sales of government units, subcontracting and outsourcing.

“Just in September, Iemma instructed his ministers to remove barriers to using part-time and casual staff within public service agencies. These measures involve possible direct changes to legislation, award and agreement provisions, and to staff levels.

“Now, nine months after re-election Iemma can’t wait to privatise energy, to be followed by ferries and water. Not surprisingly, he also resurrects Costa to provide the pro-privatisation spin.”

Beatriz concluded: “The Socialist Alliance calls on all trade unions to come together to fight Iemma’s ambush. We support the December 19 combined unions delegates’ meeting called by Unions NSW because it is the prefect opportunity to launch a mass campaign against his privatisation schemes.

“That campaign can build on the experience of the Your Rights at Work campaign against Work Choices, which showed that if working people and the community fight for their rights they can win.”

For interviews contact: Beatriz Bassi 0411 614 495

Email bea_bassi@hotmail.com

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