Friday, 22 August 2008

Main Roads workers stage 24-hour strike

The Queensland Public Sector Union (QPSU) says Main Roads Department staff across the state have launched their most significant industrial action in 20 years.

QPSU spokesman Alex Scott says about 1,000 Main Roads Department workers walked off the job at midnight AEST for 24 hours.

"This Government is going to see significant and extended industrial action for the coming months unless they wake up to themselves and actually make an offer that means that the real wages are maintained over the next couple of years in a high inflation environment," he said.

"The Reserve Bank understands this, the Federal Government understands it - inflation is high - 3.25 [per cent] won't fix it.

"The State Government is trying to force public sector workers in Main Roads in QBuild, in hospitals and in schools across the board to try and cut their wages by only offering 3.25 per cent, when inflation is running at 5 per cent."

More than 100 workers in Cairns in the state's far north have joined the strike.

QPSU far northern spokesman Kevin O'Sullivan says the action is a "reality check" for the Government.

"This is unfortunate that the Government wants to basically to cut wages and no one can afford to do that in the present economic climate," he said.

"So the Government and the Minister involved - Warren Pitt [Main Roads Minister] are going to have to have a reality check.

"This is the strongest strident our members have taken, so they're sending out the message they're very very serious about getting a decent pay."

The QPSU says there will be significant industrial action in the coming months if the Queensland Government does not increase its wage offer.

The State Government says the strike is regrettable and it will continue to negotiate with the QPSU.

The Government says contingency plans are in place to ensure any disruption to the public is kept to a minimum.

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