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No going back, say councillors

Tuesday, 24th June, 2014

By Erica Visser

Councillors say their hands are tied after being urged to consider an alternative restructure plan by a union.

City Council confirmed job losses last week in its largest organisational restructure in a decade.

The United Services Union (USU) revealed an alternative plan last week which it claims could save more money without axing jobs.

The USU met with the local ALP branch to discuss its plan which relies on natural attrition and targeted voluntary redundancies.

It called on councillors to consider the new plan at Council’s monthly meeting tomorrow night.

But councillors insist that they have no say in operational matters.

Labor councillor Jim Nolan denied that this response was a cop out.

He said that councillors had voted to cut senior management positions, but the rest was up to general manager Therese Manns.

“Councillors approved the reduction in management at City Council and the GM has the job of working through the operational levels of the structure below that,” he said.

“Labor councillors would be in breach of Local Government Act if they were meeting separately with a union representing the workers at City Council to discuss operational matters.”

The Labor caucus declined to meet with the USU last week.

Clr Nolan said that he trusted Ms Manns to consult with the union on Council’s behalf.

“Consultation is a two-way street: Consultation is between the council management and the representative unions,” he said.

“Were an alternative restructure plan to come before all elected councillors for consideration that would have to come through the appropriate channels.”

Clr Jim Richards said that if councillors got over-involved with the restructure they would suffer the same fate as those who were dismissed in 2007.

“The previous Council got put into administration because they got involved with operational matters,” Clr Richards said.

“We did what we could in terms of the senior restructure and everything else is in the general manager’s control.

“I haven’t seen the (union’s) plan or been approached.”

Clr Dave Gallagher said that he hadn’t seen the proposal either and questioned why it had been revealed so late.

“Why has it taken so long to come up with it? (The restructure) has been six months of hard work from the people in Council.

“It’s pretty easy to say the week before a Council meeting that they’ve got a plan.

“I’d look at it but it would have to be fairly good for consideration.”

Council employees moved a motion of no confidence in Ms Manns at a union meeting last week. They have been encouraged by the union to attend Council’s monthly meeting at the Council Chambers in Blende Street at 6.30pm tomorrow.

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