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Council to front IRC over restructure

Wednesday, 4th June, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

City Council will today front the NSW Industrial Relations Commission over claims its jobs restructure breaches the award.

The United Services Union (USU) said yesterday an industrial dispute application it filed with the commission was listed for mention in Wollongong this morning.

“We filed a section 130 with the commission regarding what we say is Council’s breach of the Broken Hill City Council Consent Award,” said Greg Golledge, an industrial officer with the union’s southern branch, which takes in Broken Hill.

The action follows an organisation-wide shake-up of Council’s 240-strong workforce that has resulted in a number of positions being made redundant or re-classified.

Council management has said it would be inappropriate to disclose the number of staff affected by the review until the process has been completed, which is expected to be this week.

The BDT understands cuts have been made across a number of departments with some of the affected employees told they can re-apply for fewer, newly created positions.

Mr Golledge said the union will allege Council breached the award by failing to notify it about the scale of the changes and their effect on employees. 

“We’re just very disappointed in Council’s process,” he said.

Mr Golledge discussed the proposed restructure with Council’s general manager Therese Manns during a visit to the city earlier this year, when he also met with unionists.

He said at the meeting Ms Manns “gave us some information” about her plans for a senior management restructure, so was shocked to learn about the extent of the changes now happening at Council.

The union and council even struck a deal that neither party would go to the media “if everyone played nice”. 

“We thought we had a deal,” Mr Golledge said.

Just last month the industrial officer said he doubted there would be large scale job losses at Council because of the costs involved and the impact on Council services.

“I couldn’t see them doing large scale redundancies,” he said at the time.

“They’ve got infrastructure to look after, they’ve got services to deliver.”  

However, he said that some staff may be offered lower paid positions as part of the restructure.

Comment was sought from Council about the union’s decision to lodge an application with the Industrial Relations Commission.

“Council is working with staff in good faith and any commentary on this matter would be unproductive in what is a genuine process of engagement and consultation,” assistant general manager Laura Kendall said in response.

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