Angry Illawarra public sector workers have backed further industrial and political action against state government cuts to jobs and working conditions.
More than 500 Illawarra employees massed at Wollongong's Steelers Club for a stop-work meeting yesterday morning, one of more than 40 across the state.
The Public Service Association of NSW (PSA) defied an Industrial Relations Commission (IRA) order by pushing ahead with the meetings.
PSA regional organiser Tony Heathwood said almost every public sector organisation in the Illawarra - including child care and community workers, school support staff, roads and maritime workers and others - was represented, plus some from other unions.
North Wollongong's Para Meadows School for children with disabilities was unable to open between 9am and 1pm because every support staff member - about 20 people - took part.
"The root cause is that our members work very hard and are very committed to the work that they do, and they cannot continue to sit back while this government removes thousands of jobs from the public sector and denigrates the services that these people provide to the community," Mr Heathwood said.
"Our members are really concerned that the people in our community that can least afford the loss of services will be affected by these cuts and apart from that, for no valid reason, this government is trying to destroy the wages and conditions of all public sector employees.
"On top of that you have the legislation that [Premier O'Farrell] passed last year that virtually destroyed what was a world's best workers' compensation scheme."
Workers endorsed a resolution that called on the government to halt job cuts and restore the power of the IRC to award wage rises without the government's 2.5 per cent wage cap.
Mr Heathwood said the mood at yesterday's meeting was "uplifting" and no further action was planned at this stage.
Wollongong Roads and Maritime Services employee Brianna Royal said she was especially concerned about the loss of family and community leave.
"Particularly women with small children, or people with elderly parents, when they're sick that is a leave that you really need," she said.
Treasurer Mike Baird yesterday said the statewide action was "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," he said.
"We must bring public service wages under control so that we continue to deliver vital services and infrastructure for the people of this state, both now and in the future."