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CPSU in the News

Public service jobs cuts hurt entire community, say Tasmanian union leaders

The Mercury, February 24, Michelle Paine

TASMANIA’S biggest unions have launched a year-long campaign warning of the community impact from public sector job cuts.

Unions representing teachers, paramedics, nurses, hospital orderlies, prison officers and disability support workers said members would be letterboxing, doorknocking and spreading the word in the lead up to the March 15 election and beyond.

The Australian Education Union, Health and Community Services Union, Community and Public Services Union and United Voice are spearheading the campaign.

“Eighteen months ago, the Department of Health and Human Services lost about 1200 full-time equivalent positions. All those came from what people label ‘backline’,’’ HACSU state secretary Tim Jacobson said.

Politicians often promise to spare “frontline” services — for example, nurses, police and teachers — but unions said the distinction between frontline and backline was a myth.

“It’s a complete furphy. You can’t put police officers on the street if there’s nobody in the radio room or working on preventive health and safety or looking after the cars,’’ CPSU state secretary Tom Lynch said.

“You can have an extra 108 police officers but if you cut back the public servants who support them, you’ll have uniformed officers sitting behind a desk doing the paperwork.’’

Unions Tasmania president Roz Madsen, also AEU state manager, said cuts to education meant fewer teachers, fewer support staff and larger class sizes.

“This campaign will get the message out to Tasmanians that when there are cuts to the public service it hurts everyone in our community,’’ Ms Madsen said.

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