NSW Labor has called for a bold NSW Local Government stimulus and survival package – saying that workers in the crucial sector, as well as their families, have been overlooked by the NSW and Federal Governments.
“Unfortunately, the Berejiklian and Morrison Governments have overlooked the hard working local government sector in their various stimulus and survival packages,” NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay said.
Ms McKay today put forward a bold plan, which includes:
- Protections for local government workers who are unable to work remotely or cannot be in their workplace due to the COVID crisis. These include the same pay and protections provided to State “crown” employees – such as stand down provisions on pay and special leave conditions if sick or caring for others.
- No termination of employment or reductions in take-home pay of any local government employees during this crisis period, including casual employees.
- Establishing a dedicated Keep Councils Working and Services Fund for NSW Local Government. This hardship fund would allow local councils – both those that are drought and bushfire-affected and smaller councils which have a reduced rate base and virtually no reserves – to retain workers and continue to provide essential services.
- Creating a Local Government Infrastructure Fund to stimulate local jobs and undertake community-based shovel ready projects. Economists agree this is the best way to stimulate local economies.
- Seeking a clear ruling from the Federal Government on whether a greatly reduced local government rate base is equivalent to a significant drop in business trade – allowing all employees, including casuals and those stood down to receive the Job Keeper $1500 per fortnight payment.
- Providing a guarantee that local government general managers cannot use the current COVID crisis to reduce wages and conditions – in the face of reports that some councils have already started laying off casual workers in their leisure centres, pools and libraries.
- Financial support and assistance to the council-run child care centres – which were overlooked in the Federal Government’s April 2 child care announcement.
The package was announced today by Ms McKay and Shadow Minister for Local Government Greg Warren. It also followed strong representations from United Services Union and Local Government NSW.
Ms McKay said the Berejiklian Government had an obligation to help protect workers and essential services in the State’s 128 councils – covering urban, rural and regional areas and those recovering from the bushfires and ongoing drought. Very often, local councils are the largest employers in rural and regional areas.
State-wide, there are up to 50,000 NSW local government employees in NSW.
“These are extraordinary times and they require extraordinary measures,” Ms McKay said.
“We need a bold plan so local government workers can feed their families and have a roof over their heads.”
“How does a pool attendant or librarian support their family when their workplace is closed under a health order.”
“Unfortunately, the stimulus packages from the Morrison and Berejiklian Government simply overlooked local government employees; it is time NSW rectified this immediately.”
So far, the only mention in relation to local government in NSW has been to delay the forthcoming September elections for a year.