Media Release

27 March 2020

The NSW Labor Opposition has called on the Berejiklian Government to guarantee the jobs and pay of all its workforce during the COVID-19 crisis.

This would include all employees of State government departments and agencies, including 70,000 casual employees.

The Labor Opposition has raised the plight of State government casual employees repeatedly during the crisis, and as recently as Tuesday’s Parliamentary debate on emergency legislation asked the Berejiklian Government to commit to continuing to pay them their regular income.

No commitment has been made by the Premier or her relevant Minister, the Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, Don Harwin MLC.

The protection should extend to all temporary and contract workers, as well as the employees and other workers engaged by State-owned corporations.

This step would not only give peace of mind to the more than 400,000-strong public service but to the wider public sector workforce and their families at this uncertain time.

It would also send a powerful message to all employers across the State to maintain the jobs and pay of their workers.

“Our hearts go out to the tens of thousands of our friends and neighbours who have been suddenly put out of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said. “The Premier must take immediate action to ensure the NSW Government does not add to the tragedy of growing unemployment.

“There are many things the NSW Government can and should be doing to tackle this crisis. One of the most important is to ensure all the current State government workforce remain in work and continue to receive their usual pay.”

Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Adam Searle MLC said it was vital that as many people as possible have their incomes protected, to ensure they can continue to pay their bills and get themselves and their families through this difficult time.

“The Berejiklian Government cannot control everything, but it can provide an income guarantee to all those who work for the State Government, whether they are permanent employees or not” — Adam Searle MLC, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations

“The Premier should commit to not sacking any employee of any State Government department or agency, apart from cases of misconduct. This must include a guarantee to pay the usual income for casually-employed persons across the public sector.

“Steps must also be taken to ensure that temporary and contract workers are similarly protected, whether they are directly engaged by the State or by businesses that supply services to the NSW Government.

“One example of this is the 7,000 NSW school cleaners who are employed on a casual basis by four companies under contract to the NSW Government.”