FOLLOWING THE MAY 12 COUNCIL AMALGAMATION ANNOUNCEMENT MANY USU MEMBERS HAVE BEEN ANXIOUS ABOUT THEIR FUTURES. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR MEMBERS TO KNOW THAT THE USU HAS BEEN HARD AT WORK TO ENSURE WE ARE IN A STRONG POSITION TO FIGHT FOR MEMBERS’ JOBS AND CONDITIONS AND ARE FOCUSED ON FIGHTING FOR 5 YEAR JOB PROTECTIONS.
Crucial to our campaign to safeguard wages and conditions is the protection of the Local Government State Award to ensure our members remain covered by the NSW Industrial Relations System and are not forced onto the inferior Federal Award. We have been successful in protecting the Award and the Local Government Act.
The other key aspect to our campaign to protect jobs, is our FIGHTING FOR FIVE years job protection campaign. We are in a strong position to achieve this because we have been a constant participant in the reform process from day one.
Why we are in a strong position to protect you
We have attended hundreds of meetings across the state, reviewed and written numerous submissions and importantly we have built a working relationship with the main participants - the Office of Local Government and the Minister Paul Toole.
We have participated on the industry working parties, including the peak committee (the Ministerial Advisory Group).
We have worked positively with the Minister wherever possible, while building and maintaining a strong working relationship with the Labor Opposition and Cross Benches, including the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, the Christian Democrats and the Greens.
We have placed the best interests of our members ahead of historical political alliances, as we recognise that our members must always come first.
As a result, we are well respected by the major stake holders and have been able to ensure that the jobs and conditions of our members have been protected.
5 Year job protections
Throughout our discussions with the Labor Opposition and Cross Benches, including the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, the Christian Democrats and the Greens they have made it clear that they want to protect communities and jobs and services in local government. We have made it clear that we want to talk about how they can help protect jobs – by supporting our five year job protection campaign.
We continue to seek support from the NSW Government to extend protections against forced redundancy to 5 years for merged Councils.
If amalgamation isn’t about attacking jobs, then let’s see the NSW government put up 5 year employment protections.
Currently we have strong employment protections which guarantee no forced redundancies for a period of at least 3 years from proclamation and the conditions and salaries of our members are also protected. Members cannot be forcibly transferred to another location if they will be unreasonably affected.
At some Councils, like Canterbury-Bankstown we have the situation where members are covered by different arrangements. Members at (former) Canterbury Council have 5 year job protections which were negotiated before the proclamation to merge with Bankstown Council. Former Bankstown Council members are still on 3 year protections – we need to fix this inequity.
If you are unsure of your rights in an amalgamated Council you should speak to your Union. If you have workmates who are not members of the union encourage them to join – the stronger we are the more we will achieve.
Union members will have a strong advocate to ensure that all Councils comply with the protections for our members, but who will stand up for those who are not Union members?
JRO STAFF PROTECTED
The USU has also obtained Minister Paul Toole’s support and commitment to have the NSW Local Government State Award apply to Staff who will work for Joint Regional Organisations.
This is a huge win for our members, as the creation of JRO’s could have placed staff who are employed or who are transferred to them from any Council, under the very inferior Federal Modern Award conditions.
For those members in amalgamated Councils, we will be working with your delegates to ensure that we negotiate the best possible outcome in eventually merging Salary Systems and for our members to be given the best opportunities to laterally transfer into positions when new organisational structures are created, and new position descriptions are finalised.
There has never been a more relevant time to be a member of the USU.
CAMPAIGN UPDATES AND NEWS:
In a potentially explosive development for the Baird government, the Land and Environment Court has ordered it to provide documents about the role KPMG played in implementing the council amalgamation agenda.
The state government's council amalgamation agenda is set to come under more scrutiny after Strathfield Council elected to push on with its case against the Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole, saying "serious matters" had emerged from documents produced by the NSW government.
Premier Mike Baird has been urged to demonstrate that the forced amalgamation of dozens of NSW councils is not about slashing local jobs and services, by committing to five year job guarantees.
USU General Secretary Graeme Kelly discusses the importance of five year job protection for local government workers and why the USU is pushing so hard to make it happen.