Local government unions have praised the NSW Government’s COVID support package for local government, saying the financial support will not only save jobs, but ensure council’s retain skilled and experienced staff to continue delivering essential community services.
The United Services Union, which represents 30,000 local government workers across NSW, said the $1,500 per fortnight Job Retention Allowance was desperately needed by the sector which has been hammered by the COVID crisis.
USU General Secretary Graeme Kelly OAM praised the efforts of Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock, saying she not only listened to the industry unions, Local Government NSW, and the community, but had delivered a timely and effectively-targeted support package.
“When COVID first struck Australia last year, the Federal Government abandoned the local government sector, shutting council’s out of the JobKeeper program,” Mr Kelly said.
“In stark contrast to that, the NSW Government has recognised the vital role of local government in providing essential community services ensuring an appropriate support package is now in place as much of the state faces lockdowns.
“This payment won’t just provide financial certainty for council workers whose roles have been impacted by COVID restrictions, it ensures councils across the state can retain skilled and experienced staff, allowing services to get back up and running as soon as restrictions are eased.
“Local government employees are front line workers, delivering essential services to their local communities, which is why it was so important that they be supported through the current health crisis.
“When the USU and Local Government NSW made urgent representations to the Local Government Minister about the impact of the current Delta outbreak, Minister Hancock listened to our concerns and worked closely with the sector to develop an effective, targeted support package.
“The efforts of the Minister to work with stakeholders to address the crisis facing local government services was in stark contrast to the Federal Government, who deserted us last year, leaving council workers and councils to fend for themselves with a specific exclusion from JobKeeper funding.
“The current health crisis is extremely difficult for millions of people across NSW. Councils and council workers are delivering essential services for all NSW communities in these unprecedented times and it is pleasing to see appropriate support is in place to protect jobs and services.”