The NSW National Parks workforce has braced itself for a restructure handed down by the state government that will see senior front-line jobs slashed.
The highly-skilled workforce is set for a downgrade, and South Coast rangers have been reeling at the ramifications of the change.
A major concern, aired by a South Coast National Parks ranger who asked not to be identified, is that the environment will suffer.
The ranger believes the pristine environment they have worked to maintain will be neglected.
In the restructure the state government will effectively create more unskilled, or low-skilled positions, starting at a salary of less than $300 per week, implement a glass ceiling over these roles, and butcher a number of top-level jobs.
Most rangers working on the coast from the Illawarra to the Victorian border have decades of experience behind them, and have graduated to the highest grade in the job.
Their skills will no longer be required.
The entire workforce has been demoralised since the restructure was announced.
"The state government is attacking wages, young families, why crucify the workers?” the South Coast ranger said.
“I don’t like what they’re doing to people who have made this their life.
“They’ll be asking men with young kids to take a $20,000 pay cut when these guys are just making ends meet.
“Our end product is the parks and the environment, the very thing that brings people to the region.
“They’ve lost sight of that.”
Along with upkeep of facilities, infrastructure, and environment, National Parks rangers manage controlled burns and attend to bush fires.
Public Service Association, the union representing rangers in their dispute against the state government, said prospect of losing experienced rangers in what’s tipped to be one of the most fierce and dangerous bush fire seasons on the South Coast, poses a threat to the wider community.
“The decision to remove dedicated, highly experienced fire management personnel from National Parks and Wildlife is nothing short of grossly irresponsible,” PSA spokesman Stewart Little said.
“National Parks’ staff are front line fire fighters all over the state protecting lives, private property, forestry, homes, pastures, the lot.
“They stand shoulder to shoulder with Fire and Rescue and the Rural Fire Service.
“With expert concerns already being raised about the coming fire season, the community may be about to lose a great deal more than just dedicated Parks’ staff.”