8400 PS jobs to go: union claims
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8400 PS jobs to go: union claims

Cuts by an Abbott government would rip more than $650 million each year from the economy of Canberra and the surrounding region, according to the main public sector union.

The CPSU will make a dramatic return to the election fray on Friday with modelling it says shows a savage impact on the ACT and southern NSW of the loss of more than 8400 public service jobs and the possibility of more pain to come.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

But local Liberals have dismissed the move, claiming Labor has cut or is planning to cut more than 10,000 public service jobs and the union movement cared more about returning a Rudd government than employment in Canberra.

The CPSU will try to put local jobs and services at the centre of the election agenda on Friday with modelling it says shows that 6300 of the Coalition's 12,000 "natural attrition" job cuts would be lost in Canberra and the surrounding areas of NSW.

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The projections are much more conservative than those the union took to the 2010 election when it predicted 30,000 local job losses under an Abbott-led government, a forecast branded by local conservative politicians as "union thuggery''.

In this election campaign, the union says the opposition will need strip $50 billion from the budget to pay for its "unfunded promises'', sending another 2118 local public servants to join the dole queue.

The CPSU walked away from Labor's election campaign three weeks ago after the government hit the public service with a 2.25 per cent increase in its efficiency dividend, a decision which the union branded "awful'', saying it would cost 5000 public service jobs.

But the union and the Labor Party had a public reconciliation in Melbourne a week ago with CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten agreeing they would "work together" to limit the impact to 2000 jobs.

CPSU public service organiser Beth Vincent-Pietsch said her union's modelling showed that one-in-eight public service jobs in Canberra and the region could go under the projected cuts.

"Tony Abbott's initial cuts will take out 6309 or 9.4 per cent of all ongoing [public service] jobs in the region over two years with potentially more non-ongoing jobs being lost if contracts are not renewed," Ms Vincent-Pietsch said.

"An additional 2118 jobs in the region may be under threat from further cuts required to reach the $50 billion in savings required to fund the Coalition's promises."

But Ms Vincent-Pietsch predicted that widespread redundancies were likely. "There is a wave of successive cuts that are going to hit the region, those that we know about and those that the Coalition doesn't want to talk about - the deep cuts to spending, the outsourcing of jobs to the private sector and the demolition of the health and education portfolios," the union official said.

"The community is going be hit by a double whammy - firstly, cuts of this magnitude will take an estimated $650 million in salaries out of the economy, and secondly people are going to see a corresponding drop in services as the staff left behind step into the breach."

But an unnamed Liberal campaign spokesperson said on Thursday that the CPSU was "embarrassed by its support for Labor''.

"The CPSU is embarrassed by the fact that they have backed the Labor Party, who just continue to cut public service jobs in the ACT," the spokesperson said.

"Over the last year, the Labor Party has cut or plans to cut over 10,000 public service positions. Their campaign against the Liberal Party's natural attrition policy just proves that as a Labor Party-affiliated union they care more about keeping the Labor Party in power than keeping jobs in Canberra."

Noel Towell is State Political Editor for The Age

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