Not happy john!

By NADINE FISHER and AAP

WORKERS from across the Tweed are expected to join in a national protest today against the Federal Government's workplace relations changes.

The planned protest is open to all workers, with teachers, nurses, police, firefighters and ambulance personnel are expected to take part, Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said.

But he said disruptions would be kept to a minimum.

"There'll be minimal inconvenience to people in terms of these sorts of issues and we're very conscious of making sure that these sorts of things don't inconvenience the public because we want the public to be part of this," he said. Workers can attend one of 227 venues throughout NSW to watch, and take part in the national campaign, being covered by a hook-up on the Sky television channel.

NSW Department of Education spokesperson said principals of individual schools were notifying parents of arrangements in their schools during the rally action.

Teachers Federation vice president Chris Goudkamp said minimal supervision with a skeleton staff would be provided at schools during the rallies.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma said NSW Government agencies had been informed that staff could be permitted to use their leave entitlements to attend the protests.

"The memo that's gone out makes it clear staff can participate, drawing down their own leave entitlements," Mr Iemma said.

"Secondly, agencies are to ensure that frontline services are not affected. They're the rules and if people break those rules then they'll be docked pay."

But while the ACTU is hoping that there will be a big turnout in support against the new IR changes, employers have been advised to take action against workers who attend today's rallies.

The Australian Industry Group (AIG) says the rallies are unlawful and it is encouraging its members to take action against any employees who attend them.

Richmond MP Justine Elliot is calling on locals to join in the national protest which she said would have a major impact on areas of high unemployment like the Richmond electorate.

"Workers in areas of relatively high unemployment like Richmond (9.8 per cent) will be particularly vulnerable to the changes," she said.

Ms Elliot said given that the pension is calculated on 25 per cent of average male earnings, the living standards of 13,000 local pensioners are also at risk if wages go down.

"If you are concerned about these extreme reforms and want to help send a strong message that you care about your basic rights, pay and entitlements come and take part in Australia's biggest ever workplace meeting," she said.



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