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USU taking proposal to Labor councillors

Thursday, 19th June, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

Labor councillors will be urged to back an alternative plan that a union claims will deliver the required savings to Council without the loss of a single job.

The development comes as unionists employed at Council last night moved a motion of no confidence in general manager Therese Manns at a meeting arranged by the United Services Union (USU).

Industrial officer Greg Golledge said after the meeting that over 120 members, including indoor and outdoor staff, attended the gathering at the Trades Hall to discuss the workforce restructure.

The motion, which was carried unanimously, added that members “do not agree with the way (Ms Manns) is enforcing the restructure and don’t believe she is abiding by the award”. 

Mr Golledge described the meeting as “positive and robust” but said people were obviously concerned about the proposed changes.

Council last week revealed plans to shed 18.5 full time equivalent positions as part of a restructure that it says will save about $1.4 million a year.

But the USU, which claim it and its members have not been properly consulted about the changes, said that it has an alternative plan that would save more money without the loss of any jobs.

Mr Golledge said he and USU southern branch manager Gary Vann would begin speaking to Labor councillors today about their proposal but would not provide any details about the plan. 

With five councillors Labor has voting control of Council.

“(We) will be talking to the Labor councillors about their involvement in the restructure, what they know and don’t know what is occurring,” Mr Golledge said.

“We’ll be putting an alternative position to Labor councillors ... where we see no involuntary redundancies.

“It will save more money over a 10 year period than what Therese Manns is putting forward.”

Mr Vann rejected suggestions job cuts were needed to improve the financial position of Council, which is facing a forecast budget deficit of almost $7m next year.

He said if Council cut 20 positions it would be forced to hand out almost $3m in redundancy payments, something that would not need to occur under the union’s plan.

“This is a long-term view of Broken Hill, not a short-term view of Broken Hill,” Mr Vann said.

“We’re not opposed to restructure if it’s done correctly, but this has not been done correctly, it’s been done badly.”

Both men said that, in their combined 55 years of experience in industrial relations, they had not seen a restructure done in this way.

Council has said the majority of staff cuts will be at its administrative centre but Mr Golledge said the union was certain they would not be the last. 

“We believe this is just the beginning of plans to cut (more staff),” he said.

“You’d be naive to think it won’t happen in other areas.”

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