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False hope claim

Saturday, 21st June, 2014

By By Erica Visser

Council dismisses union’s plan to save workers’ jobs

A union representing City Council employees has revealed an alternative restructure plan, while lashing out at the “appalling behaviour” of general manager Therese Manns during an important meeting.

But Ms Manns has accused the United Services Union (USU) of offering “false hope” to Council staff with its claim that the restructure could be done without anyone losing their job.

The union yesterday revealed to the BDT an alternative restructure plan that would rely on natural attrition and voluntary redundancies.

Council last week announced plans to cut 18.5 full time equivalent positions as part of its restructure to save around $1.4 million a year.

But USU industrial officer Greg Golledge said the union’s 10-year plan would save $4.5 million more than Council’s.  

“There will also be no redundancy payments, no need for the added expense of interest on borrowings... all this will save several million dollars on top of the savings already outlined.”

Council already has a loose system of natural attrition in place and it is understood that eight jobs remain vacant.

But Mr Golledge said that this plan would see a reduction of two staff each year and called for voluntary redundancies in over-staffed areas.

“The offer of voluntary targeted redundancies could then be at Council’s call on an ongoing basis during the ten years or a shorter period if reduction is achieved earlier,” he said.

“Initially the cost to Council would be reduced in as much they wouldn’t be paying out large amounts in redundancies.”

The plan had not yet been shown to Council, despite Mr Golledge meeting with Ms Manns on Thursday.

Ms Manns has slammed the USU for playing with the emotions of staff and providing no evidence of its plan to Council.

“I was not surprised that (Mr Golledge) could not produce a structure, despite claims that he has a model that proposes no job losses,” she said.

“I am disappointed that the union has been irresponsible in providing false hope to families and staff members with its unfounded comments that it could provide a structure that would result in no job losses.

“Simply, the union has no idea of our operations or our financial challenges.

“While I can understand our staff are upset by this process - and it is emotive - we have created an opportunity to have a say on the workforce review.

“The most disappointing aspect is that the union continues to play this out in the media.

“We have been open to alternative solutions and they have remained silent.”

Council has held 50 consultations with staff about its restructure.

However, over 120 staff moved a unanimous motion of no confidence in Ms Manns at a meeting on Wednesday night.  

Mr Golledge said that he did not reveal the plan to Ms Manns on Thursday as he had not yet spoken with Labor councillors.

He has since spoken with the ALP branch’s president and secretary, but did not meet with the Labor Caucus.

Mr Golledge accused Ms Manns of having an “appalling attitude” during Thursday’s meeting.

“I had set this meeting up with Council when my colleague and I arrived in town as a courtesy visit. We hadn’t planned an agenda,” he said.

“Ms Manns’ attitude at the meeting was not conducive to any mature dialogue, as from the start of the meeting until its end Ms Manns played with her iPad.

“Ms Manns is in Broken Hill for the short term. The effects of her restructure will have a negative impact in the long term.”

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