WHEN unions take part in election campaigns, they do so not because of a particular political allegiance, but to ensure that working people have a voice in policies that will affect them.

That is why Unions NSW and its affiliates have been so active in fighting for frontline services and the retention of public assets in the state election campaign which concludes this Saturday.

So, it is true that we have sought – and gained – commitments of $9.5 million to train specialist maths and science primary school teachers, $96 million to recruit 840 new nurses, and $46.6 million to recruit 500 new paramedics.

And yes, unions have also been openly campaigning to keep the state’s power assets in public hands.

Fighting for what is best for working people

As unions, we fight to protect and increase jobs and services. We oppose the fire sale of publicly-owned assets, which we know will lead in the long run to poorer service and higher costs for consumers.

But that’s no secret. That is what unions have always done, and it’s nothing to do with payback or financial donations to any political party.

It’s about what is best for the working people and their families who we represent.

Unions are, by definition, mass-membership organisations. Their very reason for ­existing is to enable ordinary workers and their families to speak with a loud and influential voice

We think patients in our public hospitals should be looked after by an adequate number of nurses.

We think children in our public schools should be taught by a sufficient number of teachers. 

WATCH: the Unions NSW mobile billboard in action

And we think those who find themselves in need of urgent medical attention should be confident there are enough paramedics to look after them in time.

We also think that the state’s electricity network is better off remaining in public hands.

We have a view that a vital monopoly asset is better off being controlled by an elected government, instead of a for-profit entity, possibly foreign-owned.

These are the issues we have sought to put foremost in the minds of the people of New South Wales as they prepare to vote this Saturday.

Our movement of 600,000 working people in NSW has been campaigning for these things for the past couple of years.

Hundreds of ordinary workers have volunteered to be part of our campaign because they are concerned about the direction NSW is heading.

We have literally held hundreds of public meetings and knocked on thousands of doors, handed out tens of thousands of leaflets at railway stations to inform the public of the agenda we think the next government of NSW should pursue.

The Coalition Government under first Barry O’Farrell and subsequently Mike Baird is taking NSW in the wrong direction: in the direction of cuts to services and higher costs.

Public sentiment is against privatisation

Mike Baird’s track record on slashing workers’ rights is no better than Tony Abbott’s.

Over the past four years, the NSW Liberal Government has attacked wages, cut 15,000 public sector jobs, slashed the industrial rights of its workforce and cut workers’ compensation for all workers in NSW.

In addition, Premier Baird’s plan to sell off the State’s electricity assets if he wins the election will result in higher power prices for NSW households, and the loss of $1.7 billion a year for our schools and hospitals.

The NSW Liberal Government’s privatisation agenda has already begun in hospitals and TAFEs across the state.

We know that the public shares our concerns and want a stop to any further sell offs of our public assets. The latest Fairfax/Ipsos poll showed just 23% of NSW residents support electricity privatisation.

The NSW Coalition Government has done its best to silence the voices of working people. It tried to ban unions and other third parties from donating to political parties, but this was overturned by the High Court.

The grassroots union campaign against power privatisation has resonated with the public because it is an ­authentic articulation of public sentiment.

I am guessing the fact these union goals are shared by the majority of the NSW population has something to do with how unions are mass organisations, made up of millions of ordinary working Australians.

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