The South Coast Labour Council has called on state and federal government leaders to distance themselves from a councillor who made disparaging comments about Wollongong City Council workers and their union.
Following an ongoing spat between Bede Crasnich and the United Services Union, labour council secretary Arthur Rorris yesterday weighed in to express his concern about the councillor’s comments.
The conflict began last week when Cr Crasnich suggested council staff lacked efficiency and said jobs should be outsourced to cheaper workers.
He also said union members were a ‘‘vocal minority’’ about whom the council ‘‘did not need to worry’’.
Despite vocal criticism from the USU at Monday night’s council meeting, Cr Crasnich has refused to back down from his views.
Mr Rorris said the union movement was concerned Cr Crasnich’s opinions – as well as similar views expressed by Cr Michelle Blicavs – foreshadowed an ‘‘ideological war against workers’’ that could be carried out by the state and federal governments.
‘‘We’re now calling on Barry O’Farrell and Tony Abbott to publicly condemn and disassociate the Liberal Party from these comments,’’ Mr Rorris said.
‘‘If this is Liberal Party policy, to cut pay and extend working hours, then all public servants in the state and federal sphere, including police, firefighters, nurses and everyone else should know what they’re in for.
‘‘People are entitled to know if this is just the rants of a couple of Liberal apparatchiks who want to sound important and create a news story, or the policy of the Liberal Party.’’
Asked whether Cr Crasnich’s view did represent wider Liberal Party policies, state Kiama MP Gareth Ward said he would not be a commentator about Wollongong council matters.
However, he did criticise the union for ‘‘sidelining someone with a different view’’.
‘‘Bede has been pretty poorly treated for having an opinion,’’ Mr Ward said.
‘‘I would have thought people on both sides of the political divide would respect that people are entitled to their views without all this unnecessary bullying and thuggery.
‘‘The union knows the views that Bede has expressed are not necessarily the views of the rest of the council and that there’s no chance those changes are going to be made.’’