By Michael Murphy
Barrier Daily Truth

Unionists employed at City Council are calling for the reinstatement of a worker who they believe was unfairly sacked last Friday.

They also called on council to terminate the employment of the person they believe is behind the move – Chief Operating Officer Anthony Misagh – and they have moved a motion of “no confidence” in General Manager James Roncon.

About 60 United Services Union members stopped work and met at Council’s Warnock Street Depot about 3pm yesterday to discuss a range of matters impacting staff.

Members unanimously called for the sacked worker’s reinstatement because they held concerns over the reason for his termination, and they believe that “due process” was not followed.

“From what we understand there has been a significant backlog of work due to under-staffing in the area he was in, resulting in excess hours being required to do it,” USU industrial officer Stuart Geddes said.

“He raised this as an issue for concern, and then following that, approximately a week later, he was called into a meeting with management.

“It was alleged that there were other performance concerns, however, we are still reviewing that matter.”

Mr Geddes believes the chief operating officer made a decision to sack the worker without gaining approval from the general manager.

“This is technically a breach of the Local Government Act,” he said.

“The only employee who has the right to hire and terminate staff is the general manager.”

Unionists yesterday unanimously carried a motion calling on council to re-employ the sacked worker with back pay. A motion calling on Council to terminate the employment of the chief operating officer was carried by the majority of members.

A third motion of “no confidence” in the general manager – carried by the majority of those present – related to two matters: the introduction of a drug and alcohol policy, and a statement attributed to the general manager that 10 to 12 staff had left the organisation after they had been held accountable for their performance.

Mr Geddes said Council had rejected a pro-posed drug and alcohol policy put forward by workers.

The policy was one that was accepted as the standard across the NSW local government sector, he said.

“Council originally put forward a version which seems to have more punitive aspects to it,” Mr Geddes said.

Under that proposed policy, it was easier to sack employees, they had less capacity for self-reporting, and it did not have the same level of detail regarding rehabilitation, he said.

“The last meeting we held with our members, there was unanimous support for the implementation of the industry procedures,” Mr Geddes said.

“In a recent response we have had from council, that position was rejected and they still seek to push ahead with their more puni-tive policy.”

The second issue relating to the vote of no confidence, related to comments attributed to the general manager at an internal audit meeting.

Late last month, union members called on the general manager to clarify his comments, but this has been ignored.

“We have actually had concerns from our members that have left the organisation, in the last 10 to 12 months, that this has potentially tarnished their reputation, when we know for a fact, that some of these people definitely haven’t been performance-managed out,” Mr Geddes said.

“We still have no clarification from the general manager.”

BDT invited Council management to comment.