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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Tamsin Rose

NSW unions to declare start of new six-month campaign to remove Coalition government

Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey
Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey will tell the NSW Labor conference on Saturday that the state public sector is on the verge of a ‘mass resignation’. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

Unions in New South Wales will declare the beginning of a six-month campaign to remove Dominic Perrottet’s coalition from government, releasing the results of a survey suggesting voters believe hospitals, ambulance services and public transport are deteriorating.

The Unions NSW secretary, Mark Morey, will tell the state Labor conference on Saturday that the state public sector is on the verge of a “mass resignation” and a new government needs to be elected in March to improve critical services including health and education.

The rallying speech will be given as a YouGov poll of 2,797 NSW voters, commissioned by Unions NSW, found more than half of respondents thought public hospitals were getting worse, with about three-quarters of those respondents blaming the state government.

The survey also revealed more than 40% of respondents believed public transport was getting worse and 75% of them blamed that on the government. Almost half of respondents said they felt the ambulance service was worsening and a majority of people blamed it on the government.

Unions and the Perrottet government have been at war since the start of the year over conditions and the public sector wage cap that unions argue represents a real wages cut as inflation continues to worsen.

Teachers and nurses have repeatedly gone on strike and rail workers have engaged in multiple rounds of industrial action and strikes, which the government has called a conspiracy with Labor to wreak havoc until the 2023 election.

Morey will tell the conference of a “conspiracy” – one to lift wages, make workplaces safer and provide better schooling and healthcare.

“That’s the conspiracy, and will we be fighting for it all the way to the state election? You bloody bet we will,” he will tell the conference.

“Unions NSW and the broader movement are now on a campaign footing. There’s no corner of the state that won’t hear our message.”

Morey will also compare the premier with former prime minister John Howard and his WorkChoices changes, which unions at the time argued had worsened workers’ conditions and rights.

“[Perrottet] knows his wages policy is shrinking the take-home pay of paramedics, cleaners, firefighters, teachers – the very workers who risked … their lives to get us through the pandemic,” he will say.

“We’re on the verge of a mass resignation … The public knows it. Across all major areas of essential services, confidence is collapsing.”

The opposition leader, Chris Minns, is this weekend also expected to announce a suite of policies that he plans to present to the people of NSW ahead of the election.

A YouGov survey of 2,893 public sector employees released last week found more than a quarter were or had considered moving interstate for work and 62% were considering leaving the public sector within five years.

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