Deputy Premier’s plan for fruit picking public servants highlights regional jobs failure

Public Service Association

The Public Service Association has lodged a dispute over a plan to get NSW’s public servants to harvest fruit and grains, saying it is a pie in the sky idea from the Deputy Premier.

The union lodged the dispute after the Deputy Premier Paul Toole announced a plan to offer Department of Regional NSW week-long harvest leave to meet workforce demands in the agricultural sector.

“Once again, regional NSW is being treated as an afterthought by this government,” Troy Wright, assistant general secretary of the Public Service Association said. “Rather than addressing the systemic workplace issues in agricultural industry they’ve cooked up a scheme that’s not worth more than the press release it’s written on.

“It is a dumb, lazy idea that assumes public servants aren’t already working. The people being asked to volunteer on farms are the people who, among other things, monitor our state’s biosecurity, develop drought resistant crops, and scope future resource and mining opportunities. They deliver economic value to the industry and our state, but the government would rather deploy them to pick apples.

“Regional NSW has young people desperate for a job. On the same day our unemployment numbers went up the Deputy Premier offered people who already have a job another job?

“What next? The hospitality sector has a workforce crunch too – should we redeploy prison officers as baristas and get Treasury officials waiting tables?

“What about an actual regional jobs plan from this government? That develops sustainable solutions to our agricultural sector’s workforce crisis and delivers safe, well-paid farm work to young people who need it?”

The PSA’s dispute will raise a failure to consult with the union on the issue, particularly around safety concerns.

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