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Almost 20 jobs to go under proposed restructure

Thursday, 5th June, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

Almost 20 Council positions will go under a proposed restructure which was about “aligning Council’s workforce with the community’s needs and priorities”.

Administrative centre staff will bear the brunt of a plan to cut 18.5 full time equivalent positions which will deliver around $1.4 million in savings a year.

Council yesterday revealed more information about its workforce review, saying the changes were difficult but necessary because of its “precarious financial position”.    

Speaking to the media yesterday afternoon, assistant general manager Laura Kendall said that all staff had now been consulted about the proposed changes and how it impacted on them.

Under the shake-up, which will follow a month-long consultation process, some staff will be made redundant while others will be redeployed into newly created positions.  

“This workforce review is about aligning Council’s workforce to the community’s needs and priorities for the future and also setting up our workforce so that we can deal with some of the challenges we face,” Ms Kendall said.

She said Council would be holding “very genuine consultation” with staff over the next four weeks which could see the draft structure change slightly depending on feedback.  

No staff had been offered voluntary redundancy at this stage.

“What we’ve said very clearly to staff as well as to unions is that this consultation period is genuine and we won’t be finalising the structure until we’ve done that consultation properly.

“So it would be very premature to be looking at redundancies at this point.

“Today and the last couple of days our staff are really just digesting the detail of that organisational structure and they’re flagging already that they’ll be quite active in giving feedback.”   

She also revealed that the proposed restructure would not go to another council meeting to be endorsed before its implementation. 

“The elected Council’s role in this process is to determine and endorsed a senior management structure and Council did that at the meeting last Wednesday,” she said.

“In reaching that decision Council has been informed of the expected impacts on the workforce but it’s very much an operational matter for the general manager to determine individual positions below the level of senior staff.”

She also denied that staff had been reprimanded for taking to social media.  

“The general manager issued a memo to staff yesterday but did not reprimand staff for speaking on social media.

“What we’re encouraging staff to do over this really difficult period is to support each other.” 

The way in which Council has gone about the planned changes appears to have the approval of the industrial relations umpire. 

Council faced the NSW Industrial Relations Commission yesterday after the United Services Union lodged an industrial dispute application.  

Ms Kendall said the Commission found that “overall” Council had properly consulted with staff and unions about the proposed restructure.  

A second hearing has been listed in July after the structure is finalised.

USU industrial officer Greg Golledge said yesterday that the union’s “critical” concern about the process remained.

“For us the concern really was that they started last Thursday (saying) that our members aren’t in the (new) structure.”

He also said that two union members were told that if they did not accept a lower paid position they would not have “no job and no redundancy”.

Council has also flagged the possibility of paying reduced redundancy amounts to staff under a hardship provision in the award, according to Mr Golledge.

He said he doubted councillors would have been aware of the extent of the planned restructure and its impact on staff.

“I hope that the Labor councillors aren’t completely aware of this because it would be disappointing.”

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