DISABILITY sector workers took 24-hour strike action in protest of the pending privatisation of public disability services.
The Public Service Association members rallied at the Town Green on February 14.
The rally was in protest of the pending transfer of state government-run disability services to the non-government sector by June 30, 2018.
The gathering heard fears about lack of choice, ramifications for high functioning clients with complex and challenging behaviours, as well as concerns surrounding workers’ entitlements.
Ageing, Disability and Home Care Public Service Association Mid-North Coast delegate Nick Gluckstern-Hill said people had the choice of a government-run disability service or a private provider but that would no longer be the case.
Government-run disability services span eight group homes, two centre-based respite services and dozens of community support teams on the Mid-North Coast.
“Parents have chosen ADHC because it provides certainty and continuity of service,” he said.
The union delegate said ADHC workers had built rapport and trust with clients and their families over many years.
Mr Gluckstern-Hill said families had entrusted the ADHC government workers to care for their children.
He said the government talked about a two-year employment guarantee but the union advised members that the guarantee was not what it seemed.
“The fight is not over, as much as some people might think it is,” he said about the campaign.
Disability Services Minister Ray Williams criticised the strike action.
“The PSA are protesting the transfer of disability services to the non-government sector,” he said.
“This has been public knowledge since the historic signing of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Heads of Agreement in 2012 by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell.”
Mr Williams said the transfer of these services was an important part of enabling the long-term success of the NDIS, as it would allow participants to have their choice of services within a diverse market.
“We have protected workers’ leave and superannuation entitlements through legislation, as well as recognising their continuity of service,” he said.
“Additionally, we are providing ongoing workers with a two-year employment guarantee from the date of transfer, and a transfer payment of up to eight weeks pay.
“Temporary workers have a six month employment guarantee.”
Meanwhile, the union advises people with concerns about the government’s decision to contact their local MP.