Australia

Job Cuts Condemned

SA Unions has taken aim at State Government cuts to the public service, describing the decision as particularly poorly timed, given other recent job losses.

Thursday’s mid-year budget revealed the number of jobs would be reduced by 750, in order to cover the $370 million shortfall created by the defeat of its controversial bank tax.

Frontline services such as emergency workers and medics will not be among the cuts, Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis promised.

But SA Unions, a collective that represents more than two dozen of the state’s union groups, said there was uncertainty about which jobs would go.

“No-one likes to be told a week before Christmas your job is potentially at risk. We think it’s a pretty disappointing and short-term decision,” secretary Joe Szakacs said.

“We’ve got record wage growth, we have increasing insecure employment right across the South Australian economy.

“When we’re seeing large businesses like Holden closing, losing 1,500 jobs, it is definitely not the time for the State Government … to do the same.”

‘We won’t be sacking anyone’, Treasurer says

Mr Szakacs said it was inevitable that South Australians would notice a reduction in services, although it was impossible yet to say where.

“This is the key question — which jobs will no longer be undertaken?” he said.

“Will it be school service officers who help out kids with reading difficulties? Will it be extra physiotherapists who provide physiotherapy for the elderly when they come out of hospital?”

According to the Government, the cuts will only involve backroom staff.

“My instincts are that we won’t be sacking anyone,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“What we’ll be doing is probably not recruiting against attrition for a small number of public servants.”

But others, including SA Best leader Nick Xenophon and the state branch of the Education Union, have expressed scepticism at the Government’s claim frontline services will be unscathed.

Mr Xenophon opposed the bank tax — a stance which helped bring about the cuts — but is now calling for an independent audit of the state’s finances following the March election.

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