Emergency services workers warn of more rallies to protest LNP funding cuts
FIREFIGHTERS and paramedics have promised more angry rallying against Campbell Newman and his Government after workers were ignored during a second day of protests in Cairns yesterday.
About 150 emergency workers protested outside the Cairns Regional Council building on Spence St as the Premier and ministers held a Cabinet meeting inside.
The angry group was calling for fairer wages and further face time with Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey, who left the building through a side door.
Mr Dempsey had met ambulance and fire-fighting union representatives at Sunday’s Community Cabinet, which was the scene of dramatic protests by volunteer rural fire brigades and other workers rallying against job cuts.
Mr Newman insisted the group’s issues had all been resolved then.
But Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic Craig Crawford said the group had been promised another meeting with Mr Dempsey yesterday, and they were “deeply disappointed” he had dodged them.
“I know he’s got a timeline, but it only would have taken 60 seconds to walk out the doors and speak to us,” said Mr Crawford, who is the United Voice regional councillor in the Far North.
“We’re a long way from the end – we’ll see more of these protests.”
The group, which included workers who had travelled from Townsville, is calling for a better deal in the enterprise bargaining agreements.
They dumped their protective gear on the ground and marched away when Mr Newman and Mr Dempsey refused to face them.
A woman dressed as the Grim Reaper was left on the hill where the group had protested – a symbolic protest over the effects of budget cuts to the Department of Community Safety.
A spokesman for Mr Dempsey said his strict schedule left no time to meet the group, and he needed to catch a plane after the Cabinet meeting.
Mr Newman said he sympathised with workers who were protesting against job cuts, but believed many were complaining on the basis of misinformation from union leaders.
“(Mr Dempsey) spent half an hour with them yesterday (Sunday). When they heard what the facts were, they got into the trucks and drove off happy,” Mr Newman said while the protest carried on outside.
He will continue to get the message out, but we’ve all got to go places and do things. There are other issues around the state.
“There are no cuts to frontline rural service. End of story.”
A ReachTel poll released yesterday showed Mr Newman was having a tough time selling the Budget.
The poll of 1140 people found 48.5 per cent of respondents thought his performance as premier was poor or very poor.
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Heated: Emergency services workers have vowed to continue voicing their frustration at Campbell Newman's funding cuts.