The Guardian December 1, 1999

Victorian Labor Government off to bad start

It is only natural to expect that those who will be working during New 
Year festivities are be properly compensated for the time they'll spend 
away from their families and friends.

The pressure to mark the beginning of the year 2000 is immense  obscene 
amounts of money are being spent on restaurant bookings, and entertainment.

During these festivities many people will be required to work  hospital 
workers, firefighters, ambulance officers, police, transport workers, and 
of course those in the hospitality sector, to mention a few.

Victoria's public sector workers feel very let down by the new Labor 
Government as Cabinet had decided to refer the question of millennium 
compensation payments back to individual departments and government 
agencies for negotiation with unions.

Victorian Trades Hall Council Secretary Leigh Hubbard described the 
Government's decision as very disappointing. There is very little time left 
to work out rosters for hospitals, police and other agencies.

"Our concern is that uncertainty will cause many workers not to volunteer 
for rosters or indeed not to turn out to work on New Year's eve if 
negotiations with individual departments and agencies do not result in 
satisfactory outcomes", said Mr Hubbard.

The Government has missed an opportunity to raise morale in the Victorian 
public sector after seven years of unrelenting attacks from the Kennett 
Government, said Mr Hubbard.

As he put it "times have been tough in the Victorian public sector. Police, 
nurses and other emergency services workers have felt the brunt of job and 
budget cuts.

The issue of a special millennium payment and additional public holidays 
provided the Cabinet with a great opportunity to demonstrate how much they 
valued the work of Victorian sector workers.

The unions will begin the fragmented negotiations with government 
departments and agencies but it has the potential to turn into a nightmare 
with the short time available to both management and unions.

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