While official unemployment sits above 7%, the new Tasmanian government’s first budget proposes to cut at least 1200 public sector jobs. This follows from the previous Labor/Green government which also cut jobs and services in their budgets.
In their first attempt, Liberal Premier Hodgman tried to cut 700 jobs, implement a pay freeze on public sector wages for a year, and then cap future pay rises at 2%. The independent-dominated Senate voted to delay a decision so the government increased the number of job cuts.
The job cuts effectively free up funds to subsidise the government’s $1.6 billion road infrastructure plan. This is capitalism’s plan to create profits as economic growth tapers off.
The Libs will also gut health by $210 million and education by $150 million, among $750 million in cuts over four years. This equates to 3-4% of the annual $5 billion budget.
Thousands of workers have already demonstrated, but much more will be needed if these cuts are to be stopped. Public sector unions urgently need to organise a 24-hour strike, as a first step. An industrial strategy must be coupled with a campaign to build a political alternative to the major parties.
By W. van Leeuwen