Thousands of public servants stopped work today to protest against the O'Farrell government's cuts to jobs and working conditions and they endorsed an ongoing campaign of political and industrial action.
They converged on Smore than 47 locations around the state.
The meetings called on the state government to withdraw its application in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission for a new Crown Employees Conditions Award.
The public sector workers also called for a stop to planned job cuts in the public sector and restoration of powers to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, allowing it to award fair wage rises above the government's 2.5 per cent wage cap.
The Public Service Association said at least three schools were forced to close during the protests because the schools were reliant on administration staff who attended the rally.
Public Service Association John Cahill said thousands of public services workers were facing uncertainty and job losses were hitting families and rural communities hard.
"The NSW government's slash and burn of public sector jobs is not only a personal tragedy for many workers, it will have a deep, long-term impact on the quality of services across our state," he said.
"You can't expect that if you don't cut nurses, teachers and police but cut everywhere else that services will continue as normal.
"Today we have seen a great demonstration of public sector workers turning out in their thousands ... to send a message to the O'Farrell government.
"They won't stand idly by and see their conditions slashed, their pay capped and the services to the people of this state diminished."
Mr Cahill said it was likely there might be more half-day and full-day strikes between now and the next state election.
He said many workers were reliant on shift penalties and other conditions that are to be cut, to make up for their modest pay packets.
Mr Cahill said it was a possibility the PSA would face a fine for defying an order of the Industrial Relations Commission.
Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said public sector workers were sick of the continued cuts imposed in the first 18 months of the O'Farrell government.
"The message is clear - enough is enough - they are sick of the continued cuts and the lack of respect they are getting from this government," he said.
"This government has not been in power for 18 months and we have seen unprecedented levels of action by public service workers - firefighters, nurses, police officers, teachers and now the general public sector workers have all had to take industrial action because this government believes it can deliver for this state by cutting and attacking its workforce.
"People don't want to strike ... but this government has given them no other option."
Opposition spokeswoman for Industrial Relations Sophie Cotsis, who attended the rally, said it was successful.
She said public sector workers were distressed at the 15,000 job cuts and how that would impact on service delivery.
In the area of child protection, public sector workers feared abused children were in danger of "falling through the net".
"Frontline workers are devastated because they work around the clock and they will be affected by the changes to their penalty rates and leave loading.
"This government continues to demonise public sector workers and it's an absolute disgrace.
"These are people who have gone to university, who have worked very hard to get two degrees; they've done honours, they've done PhDs. Many are going through TAFE to get professional development.
"There are many challenges ahead for the next 10 years managing an ageing population and children with special needs."
Mike Baird, who is Treasurer and the Minister for Industrial Relations, said he was disappointed that public sector workers went ahead with industrial action today despite being ordered by the Industrial Relations Commission to call off the planned protests.
"It’s very disappointing that the Public Service Association decided to ignore the independent ruling by the Industrial Relations Commission and proceed with industrial action today," Mr Baird said.
"The decision to inconvenience the public through this disruption of public service is completely unwarranted.
"The NSW government is paying a minimum 2.5 per cent wage increase which is currently above inflation. This is both fair for public servants and affordable for the state.
"We have also made it clear that we remain open to ideas from the PSA to achieve savings to provide for further increases above the 2.5 per cent and have agreed to continue to negotiate.
"The NSW government has put some options forward. The PSA has rejected those but has failed to come back with other suggestions on what they feel is acceptable, so this action today is completely unreasonable."
More in Tuesday's Mercury.