Monday, 26 September 2022

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

The economic challenges of Regional NSW are well documented.  One of the solutions is public sector jobs – such as yours – which mean decent salaries being paid and then spent in the town they exist.

It has always been a fundamental demand of the PSA from State Government – invest in jobs and services in the bush for both those that have them and the communities that depend upon them.  The PSA participated in a research project through the University of Wollongong last year that gave the concept some academic rigor…it showed that 80 per cent of discretionary spending from regional public sector jobs occurs regionally.  It is the simplest economic stimulus possible.

Sadly Grafton is an involuntary part of a policy experiment that is proving this is not always the case.

The largest employer in the Grafton LGA by far is the Clarence Correctional Centre operated by Serco, a multinational listed on the UK stock exchange and valued at approximately £2B.  At Clarence alone it has some 500 employees, the majority being shift working Correctional Officers responsible for the security of the gaol and the welfare of those detained within.

Ordinarily, having a gaol located in a regional location is a boon for the local economy.  But when the seemingly insatiable profit motive of Serco is introduced, what we are witnessing is not trickle-down economics but a draining out.

Despite record domestic and international profits, despite a $2.6Bn 20 year contract, and despite assurances by your local MP Chris Galaptis that the privatized gaol would be of benefit to the community, Serco’s tight-fisted wage offers to its employees mean there is less money for all.  Obviously our members employed at the Centre are impacted directly, but so are the local business and Grafton itself.

Serco are currently paying Correctional Case Officers in the CCC the lowest wages for the industry in the country.  Their enterprise bargaining offer is still the lowest wages offer for the industry in the country.  And despite the recruitment and retention issues this approach is producing, they have steadfastly refused to budge.

This is why our members are taking industrial action this week, and why we are calling on all businesses in Grafton to show their support for the ‘Fair Go Serco’ campaign.

What can you do, fellow PSA/CPSU NSW member I hear you ask?

  1. Come down to Truck Drivers Memorial Park (next to Caltex South Grafton, Big River Way) at 9:00am on Friday 30 September when our members will be rallying as part of their 24 hour work stoppage;
  2. Look for and support local businesses in Grafton who have our ‘Fair Go Serco’ poster on display.  If you know of others that want to be involved, please contact Tom Whitton at Grafton Office on 0438 775 462 and let him know;
  3. Write to your local newspaper, community FB groups or call your radio stations and voice your dissatisfaction with Serco and its approach to strangling the economic life out of Grafton.

Make no mistake, this is privatisation in action – lower wages and more dangerous workplaces.  But also as a member of your community, Serco is proving to be a burden rather than a contributor.

Please help us to tell them this is no longer on and it is time for a Fair Go, Serco!