Read this important notice!
USU members employed at amalgamated / merged Councils need to be careful not to agree to any offer of employment with their new Council that seeks to vary any current conditions such as salary and salary range, hours of work, work location, or any other conditions or entitlements the member had at the time of the amalgamation / boundary change.
Staff who were employed at the time of amalgamation / boundary change, have specific employment protections granted under section 354 of the Local Government Act.
Recently, a number of the amalgamated / boundary changed Councils have sought to deny their staff these employment protections by various means, such as forcibly transferring staff into lower paid positions and notifying them that they were going to absorb all future salary increases until their salaries eventually matched.
Some Councils have also claimed that protections regarding the retention of conditions only applied for 3 years following amalgamation / boundary change. This is plainly untrue!
The USU raised these matters with peak representative bodies including the Office of Local Government, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and the Minister’s Office.
As a result, the Administrators and Interim General Managers at all of the amalgamated / boundary changed Councils have received a letter from the Office of Local Government, and a fact sheet from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, which very clearly advises Councils of their responsibility to comply with the employment protections.
The USU’s intervention appears to have halted the actions of the more extreme Councils opposed to complying with the Act.
However, USU members need to be cautious, as accepting an offer which does not comply with the employment protections could see you worse off! That is, if you agree to different terms of employment which are inferior to those you had, you can forfeit your current conditions and rights.
Based on our experience with the 2004 rural amalgamations, we expect that around 90% of staff (or more) will be directly transferred into the same, or similar, role without any loss of current entitlements.
There will be a minority of positions where a direct transfer is not readily available. In such cases members should not feel pressured into rushing into a decision which could be to their detriment as you still have over 2 more years (and in some cases 4 more years) of protection from being made forcibly redundant.
Council elections are looming in September 2017, for those Councils who did not hold them in 2016.
This will lead, in some cases, to the appointment of a new General Manager and Senior Management working under an elected Council.
Past experience has shown the USU that we should have more than sufficient time to resolve the great majority of issues and future positions of displaced staff before the protections for no forced redundancies expire.
Union members have access to advice, support and representation, and should use it during this period.