Public sector job cuts are driving unemployment and putting pressure on services
18 February 2013, 5:05pm
New research by the ACTU has revealed that the number of public sector jobs in Australia has fallen for the first time in more than a decade, after state Coalition governments sacked tens of thousands of workers last year.
More than 50,000 public administration and safety jobs were lost around the country in the year to November 2012, with about half of those cuts taking place between May and November as state governments in New South Wales and Queensland executed radical job cuts.
And more job losses are on the way as state governments foreshadow further deep cuts to their wages bills.
The ACTU Jobs Report found that employment in public administration and safety fell by 6.9% - by far the biggest yearly fall in employment in that industry on record going back to 1984 - with public service cuts being a major factor in the rise in Australia's unemployment rate.
The ACTU found that of the 50,800 jobs lost in the year to November, 27,000 were under the O'Farrell Government in NSW, and 10,400 under Campbell Newman's Government in Queensland. The Liberal Government in Western Australia also cut 5500 jobs, representing a 7.1% fall. ACTU analysis of public sector budgets suggests that the squeeze on public sector employment is far from over and may even get worse.
ACTU President Ged Kearney said cutting public servants had led to more pressure on vital services like health and education and an impact on unemployment rates.
"The public sector has been reduced at the federal, local - and most notably - at the state level with major cuts in Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and WA" Ms Kearney said.
"Cutting public sector workers is a short-sighted policy which will lead to reduced services for all Australians. Many of the workers who lose their jobs will spend long periods of time in unemployment.
"What is most concerning is that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have said they will immediately slash 20,000 federal government jobs and cut more than $50 billion for government spending, if they are elected," Ms Kearney said.
CPSU National Secretary, Nadine Flood, said public sector workers were fiercely proud of the work they do but feel threatened by conservative politicians at the state and federal level, keen to make deep budget cuts.
"With the public sector already under pressure, cuts like those put forward by Tony Abbott will severely damage public services in Australia," Ms Flood said.
"No matter how the Coalition tries to spin it, deep cuts to the public sector mean cuts to the services that Australians rely on."
The ACTU's Jobs Report for February is available in the Publications section at www.actu.org.au