NSW Labor has called on the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government to make it a priority for local non-frontline public sector workers to continue to work from Wollongong as the COVID-19 restrictions are being relaxed, and after they have been lifted.
Many local public sector workers who would usually travel by car or commute by train to Sydney for the work day have been directed or encouraged to work from home during the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
This should now be a permanent choice for these local non-frontline public sector workers.
NSW Labor has called on the Government to examine whether converting a space at the Wollongong State Office Block, or leasing another location, could be an option to enable public sector workers to work locally periodically instead of commuting daily to Sydney CBD.
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Adam Searle, said, “We should take any steps available to provide alternatives to people undertaking long commutes, once more normal working arrangements return. Giving workers back as much personal and family time as possible should be a key objective.
“Innovative measures like this should become the norm, rather than the exception - while ensuring the important benefits of being able to access the workplace are retained.”
Member for Wollongong, Paul Scully said, “Many commuters who have joined the daily grinding commute to Sydney every day prior to the COVID-19 restrictions have told me they wish they’d be able to work locally more often.
“The COVID-19 restrictions have certainly shown that workers can work remotely, especially non-frontline public sector workers.
“While some may continue to work from home, others may wish to instead work from other centralised office facilities in a city location.
“The point I’m making to the Government is that city location doesn’t necessarily need to be in Sydney CBD – it can be in the Wollongong CBD.
“The COVID-19 pandemic crisis warrants a re-think of how we work.
“Things that have previously been ruled out should now be reassessed with fresh eyes and we think a ‘Working from Wollongong’ strategy for local non-frontline public sector employees should be high on the agenda”, he said.
The NSW Government is the biggest employer in the state and should be leading the way in enabling new ways of working for its employees and encouraging other private sector employees to do the same.
“A ‘Work from Wollongong’ strategy will benefit workers who won’t have to commute, it will also reduce some escape retail spending providing a local economic boost right when it is needed most - it's a win-win", Mr Scully said.