Next phase of Council staff restructure underway

Central Coast Council Photo: Justin StanleyCentral Coast Council Photo: Justin Stanley

The next stage in the proposed organisation and staff restructure at Central Coast Council has been released to staff and it has cast uncertainty among the workforce that there could be forced redundancies and jobs being axed in the service areas.

The United Services Union (USU) and Council have been in constant negotiation since Council’s financial troubles emerged in October 2020, and as part of the financial recovery process, Council has to find savings of $31M in resourcing costs.

USU representative, Luke Hutchinson, said that they are about midway through consultation about the proposed organisational and staffing restructure, and any restructure measures probably wouldn’t be implemented until mid May.

“There’s no doubt that people have been informed that their positions will not be in the proposed restructure, or that their position has been merged with another position, and that’s probably at the professional staff and management level,” he said.

“There is a proposed hit to the trades areas and a lot of those job cuts have been facilitated by voluntary redundancy.

“I haven’t got any forced redundancies on the table in any operational trades area at this stage.

“The cuts are right across the board with every single service area and unit affected, and there’s no doubt that people are worried and concerned about their job security, but there’s no one at this stage that has been forcibly made redundant or sacked.”

Hutchinson said negotiation with Council was a balancing act to get the right structure and the right staff numbers in the right areas.

“We’ve got due process to follow under the Award and Council has to consult adequately either with the Union or our members over this consultation period,” he said.

“The Union’s key goal is to ensure that there are no forced redundancies out of this process and we will continue to keep the pressure on Council in relation to that.”

Hutchinson said that if there was to be any forced redundancies, the Union would take it to the Industrial Relations Commission.

A Council spokesperson said outcomes of the reduction in staff would not be known until staff consultation was concluded and the new organisation structure is implemented.

Central Coast State Labor MPs have weighed in to the issue and are now calling on the NSW Government to guarantee that there will be no forced redundancies at Council in the wake of the financial crisis.

They say Council has rejected some voluntary redundancy applicants on the basis that they work in areas of the organisation where roles are not being cut, creating the possibility that others will be forced to go in order to make up the numbers.

A mix and match program proposed by the United Services Union (USU) would ensure no involuntary terminations, while maintaining core services, if it is adopted by the NSW Government appointed Administrator, Dick Persson, the MPs said in a statement.

Central Coast Labor MPs David Harris (Wyong), David Mehan (The Entrance), Yasmin Catley (Swansea) and Liesl Tesch (Gosford) are urging the Administrator to support the program, which proposes that staff seeking voluntary redundancies in core service areas could be replaced by staff from other service areas who are not seeking a redundancy.

A Council spokesperson said the opportunities for mix and match (positions) were being fully maximised to the extent that they could be, to facilitate the best possible outcomes for staff.

Wyong MP, David Harris, said he was hearing from some workers in the operational and trades sectors in Council that they had been given notice and that their work would be outsourced.

“The financial situation is not the staff’s fault, they’ve been doing their jobs, they’ve done nothing wrong, there’s been no performance issues, but Council might be outsourcing their jobs and those workers are getting axed,” he said.

“At the moment, for instance, all the vehicles are kept and maintained in-house, but what I’m hearing is that’s going to cease and that work outsourced.

“Council needs to be honest, if their actual agenda is to outsource work, then say that,” Harris said.

“That’s not 100 percent in the spirit of what was originally planned.”

Union representative, Luke Hutchinson, said he hadn’t heard anything about outsourcing.

“I don’t believe Council has the money to outsource a lot of the projects anyway, and a lot of projects will just drop off, or the service provision will lower,” he said.

Sue Murray