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Confusion persists, jobs on the line – Tas budget poses more questions than answers
THE Tasmanian Liberal Government has failed to give clarity to public sector workers despite a three month delay on what is a very disappointing state budget.
“Budgets are carefully crafted documents designed to conceal as much as they reveal, but Treasurer Gutwein’s is trickier than most”, CPSU General Secretary Tom Lynch said today. “His headline statement is the government will limit job cuts to 700 positions over the next four years – sounds better than we expected – but it’s not the full story.
“This number factors in a wage freeze that means no pay increase from December 2013 until December 2015 and no increments for a 12 month period. The government will blackmail the Legislative Council into passing legislation for the freeze by saying that if it’s rejected another 500 full time equivalent jobs will be cut.
“Going through it agency by agency it’s clear the Treasurer’s first budget lacks clarity, leadership and certainty”, Mr Lynch said. “Instead of giving clear guidance the government has made a few headline announcements, gutted agency budgets and left the Secretaries to make the hard decisions around jobs and services.
“The most consistent feature of the budget is the use of weasel words like ‘organisational efficiencies’, ‘restructuring’ and ‘productivity improvements’ without ever specifying what these initiatives might actually mean”, Mr Lynch said. “The implication from these throw-away lines is Tasmanian workers will lose jobs and the community will have less access to quality public services.
“There’s also no clarity around the level of job losses the Treasurer and Premier are flagging. One day they talk about ‘positions’, next day it’s ‘FTEs’, then it’s ‘jobs’ – it’s never about ‘people’. People who’ll be unemployed after cruel cuts. People who won’t be able to provide for their families or support local businesses. People who won’t be able to get the services they need to be a functioning part of our community.”
The budget papers contain extremely significant cuts to spending amounting to $744.6M over the forward estimates.
“Savings on this scale can only be found from employment and for the Treasurer to say it can add up any other way is simply another lie”, Mr Lynch said. “The government must tell the truth and quit setting up Heads of Agencies to be political scapegoats once services fail, which they will. Workers will leave and not be replaced and demand will keep increasing. Cuts to budget allocations means cuts to jobs which mean cuts to services.”
Another troubling element of some Departments’ responses to the budget comes in communications talking about ‘targeted and negotiated redundancy programs’ and ‘workplace renewal incentive programs’.
“The government’s use of what it calls a ‘negotiated redundancy program’ is fraught with problems and inequities”, Mr Lynch said. “The CPSU has not been approached to be consulted on, or negotiated with, about any redundancy program and it’s deeply concerning the government seems to want to deal with redundancies on a case by case basis. This can only lead to workers getting duped and leaves the door open to favoritism and nepotism.”
We understand the government will soon announce redundancy arrangements without any consultation or negotiation with your union. CPSU Members who are considering redundancy or are approached should contact us for help and to ensure a fair go.
The letters to staff we’ve seen from Heads of Agency betray a serious concern for the impact the uncertainty and cuts are likely to have on the health and wellbeing of staff.
Remember, you have access to an employee assistance program (EAP) and each agency has a provider. If you feel you need psychological or emotional support check your intranet to find the contact details for confidential and free help.
Your CPSU will be closely analysing the budget in coming weeks but it’s critically important that Members keep us in the loop about developments in workplaces.
“This budget needs busting, and when it’s broken down the truth about its cuts and how they’ll affect the community will come out”, Mr Lynch said.
Please call the office on 62341708 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org to raise concerns or seek help.