Together union secretary Alex Scott.
Together union secretary Alex Scott. Sharyn O'Neill

Unions unite in fight against privatisation of state services

JUST days before this year's Labour Day marches, Queensland unions have united in condemnation of the government's plans to outsource and privatise services.

As the 1000-page Commission of Audit's findings were released on Tuesday, union bosses and staff trawled through the Costello Report to find out if their members would be affected.

At 12.30pm - just 30 minutes after Treasurer Tim Nicholls spoke to the importance of the report - a line-up of delegates attacked what they saw as a government strategy to slash costs, cut corners and destroy jobs.

The Treasurer and Premier Campbell Newman have repeatedly said decisions on outsourcing and privatisation were yet to be made.

The Rail Tram and Bus Union state secretary Owen Doogan said regional Queensland would suffer as the government prepared to privatise Queensland Rail's maintenance workers by outsourcing them.

Mr Doogan said it was too early to discuss numbers on potential job losses but said there were "thousands" doing maintenance roles within QR.

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates was furious about plans to consider offloading teachers' accommodation in rural and regional areas, something he said would cripple their capacity to attract and hold on to staff.

Mr Bates said the loss of 519 teaching staff after budget cuts last year has also had an impact.

"There is no doubt that student-teacher ratios have increased after 519 teachers were lost after the previous budget and the situation will be worse after this," Mr Bates said.

Public Service union Together secretary Alex Scott was flanked by a yellow duck with spirals for eyes as he accused the government of trying to hide its "toxic" privatisation intentions.

"If it walks like a duck or quacks like a duck, it's still privatisation and will cost the government the next election," he said.

The risk of outsourcing parts of Queensland Health would have an impact on everyone, he said, particularly those in regional areas where services cost more.

"We will see second-rate services in Brisbane and third-rate services in the regions," he said.

Opposition treasury spokesman Curtis Pitt said the potential outsourcing or sale of the government's road working arm RoadTek which employs 1775 staff across 24 depots and satellite sites between Mackay, Gold Coast and west to Barcaldine.

"The example of RoadTek - it was off the table from the first iteration of the Costello Report," he said.

"Now it appears to be being sold off holus-bolus."

Treasurer Nicholls said it was in the interests of the unions to oppose the plans, as they were the greatest beneficiaries from the government having an excessively bloated workforce.

Unions will show their colours during Labour Day marches this Sunday.

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