Newcastle City Council staff will stop work next Thursday to protest a flawed redeployment program that has been used to force long-serving staff from their workplace.
The action comes as three IT staff were ordered not to come to work following recent restructures, with management excluding them from their workplaces without support and providing no structure or timeframe for how their future employment status will be determined.
The United Services Union accused council of breaching its obligations under the enterprise agreement negotiated last year and has also taken the matter to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
USU organiser Luke Hutchinson said workers had lost confidence in council management, with fears the mistreatment of IT staff could extend across the organisation.
“Workers see the mistreatment of these IT workers as an outrageous and unprovoked attack that has the potential to impact all employees of Newcastle City Council,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“For management to simply tell people not to come to work, without providing a timeframe, structure, or process for determining their future employment, is absolutely appalling.
“These workers have been given no support, instead they have simply been told to stay at home until a ‘case manager’ from an external firm contacts them at some point.
“We are also alarmed after receiving documents that suggest senior managers hatched a plan to deny some of these impacted staff redeployment opportunities through a merit based process.”
Mr Hutchinson said workers had lost confidence in council management, particularly given their actions breached provisions in the enterprise agreement that had been agreed to less than a year ago.
“We believe the operation of this redeployment program is not only deeply flawed, it fails to adhere to the requirements of the enterprise agreement, which is why we have lodged the matter with the NSW Industrial Relations Commission,” he said.
“With other service unit reviews also taking place recently, we fear that the current mistreatment of IT staff may be replicated across the organisation.
“Workers simply want council to uphold their legal obligations under the enterprise agreement, which ensures workers are treated fairly, with dignity and respect.”
USU members will stop work at midday on Thursday 3 October, meeting at the No.1 Sportsground in Newcastle to discuss the latest developments and determine their future course of action.
Media comment: Luke Hutchinson 0419 761 323
Further information: Tim Vollmer 0404 273 313