Hornsby Council is currently exploring the possibility of voluntary leave arrangements for staff in order to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Based on feedback from members it appears that these proposals were causing uncertainty and anxiety amongst members.

To address this the USU held discussions with Council management, including the General Manager, late last week. These discussions were direct and upfront.

As you would all know some Council services have been hit harder by the COVID-19 crisis than others (childcare, libraries, and leisure centres for example). As this crisis develops more services may be impacted. What we all need to think about is whether USU members working in these services should bear the brunt of these closures, and what we can each do to keep our co-workers in jobs and keep Council financially strong in the medium to long term.

The proposal that the Council has put to us is:

  • all staff agree to take one day of leave (annual, long service, or leave without pay) a week for a period of 3 months.

This will reportedly:

  • provide more opportunities for members effected by work closures to be redeployed; and
  • reduce some growing running costs for the Council.

These are VOLUNTARY arrangements, and no one should be forced, coerced, or pressured into agreeing.

But for these arrangements to work a significant majority of staff need to opt-in.

In the event that these arrangements don’t go ahead staff with large leave balances will be forced onto leave, and staff affected by work closure who don’t have leave may be left without pay.

Neither option is good. This health crisis has forced us all to choose between the best of bad options.

The USU provides advice to members, but we are ultimately directed by you.

In the next few days you will getting a text message from us. If you support the Council’s proposed arrangements reply YES to that text message. If you don’t support the Council’s proposed arrangements reply NO to that text message.

As always, contact your delegates Jacqui Tomlins or Brad Wheeler, or your Organiser Zoe O’Rourke on 0427-761-320 for advice.