Premier Mike Baird has been urged to demonstrate that the forced amalgamation of dozens of NSW councils is not about slashing local jobs and services, by committing to five year job guarantees.

The United Services Union, which represents thirty thousand local government workers across NSW, welcomed a commitment by Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile to put forward legislation enshrining the five year job protections, supported by the Shooters and Fishers, Labor, and Greens. 

USU general secretary Graeme Kelly said the Baird Government and its appointed council administrators should publicly commit their support for the protections. 

“All too often, when the Liberal Party talks about making institutions more ‘efficient’, what they really mean is that they intend to slash jobs, reduce services, cut wages and conditions, or outsource profitable elements to their mates in big business,” Mr Kelly said.

“Enshrining in law job protections for employees at these newly merged councils isn’t just about removing uncertainty for workers, it’s an insurance policy for local communities that they will have their existing high quality services and infrastructure protected through this amalgamation process.

“We welcome the sustained support that local government workers have received from the crossbench, in particular their commitment to put forward these five year job protection provisions. 

“Mike Baird must support those protections that provide certainty for workers and local communities.” 

Mr Kelly said that questions remained about the process, including which councils had been selected for merger and which ones were allowed to stand alone.

“It’s more than a coincidence that the councils Mr Baird has spared from the chop are located in marginal federal seats currently being defended by the Liberal and National Parties,” he said.

“If Mike Baird is to be believed, there is something special about councils in marginal electorates that somehow makes them more efficient and better suited to standing alone.” 

Mr Kelly warned that the union would not accept any attempt to use the amalgamation process as a cover for increasing the outsourcing of community services to profit driven businesses.

“We are already seeing business interests and lobbyists circling, viewing the amalgamation process as an opportunity to take over services that are currently run for the public good,” he said. 

“Local government has always been about providing quality, responsive, locally tailored services that operate purely in the public interest.

“Any attempt to use amalgamations as a smokescreen for cuts to jobs, working conditions, or service levels will be vigorously fought by the union.

“Mike Baird has an opportunity to put all of these concerns by introducing legislation himself increasing employment protection to five years.”

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