Shellharbour council staff stop work over restructure

About 120 Shellharbour City Council staff walked off the job on Thursday morning over concerns surrounding the ongoing restructuring of the organisation.

United Services Union (USU) organiser Rudi Oppitz said both outdoor and indoor staff attended the stop-work meeting.

‘‘The issue for the union and its members is the council has not been consulting with the union in any meaningful fashion in regards to the restructure,’’ Mr Oppitz said.

‘‘The redesign results in members being required to be responsible for far more than they used to be, without any appropriate payment for that.’’ Mr Oppitz said the restructure across the council had the potential for job losses.

‘‘The other area of concern is the removal of park rangers from Blackbutt Forest and Bass Point.

‘‘We have had concerns from members about their safety while in the reserves doing work, but also about the potential degradation of the park as the asset won’t be maintained to the same levels it previously was.’’

Mr Oppitz said members passed a resolution to hold another meeting in two weeks’ time.

He said the matter was in the hands of the Industrial Relations Commission to seek their assistance to obtain an end result.

Shellharbour City Council general manager Michael Willis said when he took up his position in 2011 he looked at the organisation and consulted with staff in a general way about the structure he wanted and had progressively made changes as a result of that.

‘‘We are coming to the last piece of that now, which involves the Shellharbour Enterprises directorate,’’ Mr Willis said.

‘‘Some proposals have been advanced and already been determined and with others we are engaged in discussions with the union and staff about that.

‘‘This morning the USU called a stop-work meeting which took place. Council’s perspective is that matter is currently being dealt with through the IRC.’’

Mr Willis said whenever you made changes, ultimately it affected people in the job they held.

‘‘This is the point in the process we have got to,’’ Mr Willis said.

He said the changes were about restructuring, not job cuts.

‘‘What I can say is there has been no intention at all to ship out large numbers of the workforce to the private sector or anything like that.

‘‘This is simply a way of rearranging the current positions we’ve got in accordance with the structure that has been developed over time.’’

United Services Union organiser Rudi Oppitz in 2007. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

United Services Union organiser Rudi Oppitz in 2007. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

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