Housing Contact Centre PSA/HCC November consultation meeting

Dec 5, 2017

Housing Contact Centre PSA HCC November consultation meeting – December 2017 (PDF version)

On 22 November 2017, PSA delegates and the PSA Housing industrial Officer met with Housing Contact Centre Management for our fourth quarterly Joint Consultative meeting for 2017.

At this meeting we began by confirming four of the eight remaining previously grade 5/6 ‘Operations Leaders’, whose roles have been deleted due to the Cluster Operating Model (COM) restructure, were offered ‘Voluntary Redundancy or Redeployment’. These four long-term dedicated employees and PSA members were pleased the PSA fought for the extension of their employment from the original 30 June deletion date to 30 September 2017. Once their substantive roles were deleted they were deemed eligible to be covered by the Managing Excess Employees Policy 2013 NSW (MEE Policy).

What is not clear is why the remaining four former Operations Leaders, whose 5/6 grade substantive roles were also deleted at the same time, have not been offered the same ‘Voluntary Redundancy or Redeployment’ under the same policy. This was raised in the meeting.

A brief and unsatisfactory response from management was they have been treated differently because they’ve been acting in ‘temporary development roles’. It is the view of the PSA that this is not an adequate reason. When an employee’s substantive role has been deleted under a restructure, the MEE policy applies unless other legislation has overridden it.

Two members in this cohort have asked the PSA to take this up with FACS HR, so that the same options are afforded them, as have been offered to their colleagues.

Issues raised with HCC management on behalf of PSA members

The two other burning member issues we raised at the meeting were conversion of long-term temps to ongoing roles and maternity leave policy/processes.

Conversion of long-term temps to ongoing roles

The PSA conveyed its belief that public services are best delivered by permanent public servants in secure ongoing employment. We asserted the HCC should take all reasonable steps to provide its employees with secure employment by maximising the number of permanent positions in the workforce. We communicated that the HCC has a number of long-term temporary staff who have been in roles for more than 12 months, but are employed on insecure contracts. We asserted these should be converted to ongoing roles.

We were encouraged to see the HCC does have a process for conversion of long-term temporary staff to ongoing roles; and were able to demonstrate that the last conversion was processed this year (between February and May 2017). Thirty-three long-term temporary employees, mostly Client Service Officers, were converted to ongoing roles during this time. We have been assured the opportunity for further conversions will be revisited at the time of budget review at the end of the 2017-2018 financial year. Conversion of long-term temporary staff will be an ongoing conversation the PSA has with FACS Housing on behalf of our members to ensure that these conversions happen regularly.

Parental leave policy/processes

The PSA addressed the issue of parental leave for both permanent and temporary staff. We let management know our members have major concerns about how parental leave is being handled at the HCC, both in terms of
a) entitlement to take unpaid parental leave and
b) entitlement to return to a role after taking parental leave.

PSA delegates cited examples where our members as long-term temporary staff have been advised if they take parental leave they will need to re-apply for their roles on their return.

HCC management was confident in its belief they are acting in compliance with the legislative requirement, despite our examples. Management asserted it believes casual employees are not entitled to return to work at the HCC after a period of parental leave. The PSA disagreed on this point and verbally explained our position, which we indicated will also be put in writing as follows:

a) Right to unpaid parental leave

The PSA cited the Industrial Relations Act 1996 (NSW) (“IR Act”) (s54) and Cl 80 of the Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Reviewed Award 2009 (“the Award”) entitlement of an “employee” to 52 weeks of full-time unpaid parental leave (or two years part-time) with the birth or adoption of a child.

The act defines an “employee” (s5) to include part-time or casual contractors working on a regular, systematic basis. A “regular casual employee” is a casual employee who works for an employer on a regular and systematic basis and who has a reasonable expectation of on-going employment on that basis (IR Act, s 53(2)).

b) Return to work after parental leave

The PSA cited s66 of the IR Act and Cl 75 of the Award, where a regular long term employee is entitled after parental leave to return to a role they were doing prior to leave – or if the role ceases to exist while on leave, then to return to another role at grade.

The PSA made it clear that there is an obligation on the Department to grant the leave and to re-engage employees after parental leave. The award specifies (at 12.5.4) that regular casual employees are entitled to unpaid parental leave under, s54, ‘Entitlement to Unpaid Parental Leave’, in accordance with the IR Act. And it further specifies that:

(a) The Department Head must not fail to re-engage a regular casual employee because:

(i) the employee or employee’s spouse is pregnant; or

(ii) the employee is or has been immediately absent on parental leave.

As agreed, the PSA Housing Industrial Officer will assert these parental leave award entitlements on behalf of Housing Members, in writing to the HCC Director and HR manager for a formal response.

If you do have concerns and/or examples in relation to parental leave, please talk to your PSA HCC delegate who will gather the information for our case.

PSA Staff

Kris Cruden – Industrial Manager

Vivette Horrex – Organiser

Katy Ambler – Industrial Officer

You can support the work of the PSA and your local delegates by asking your colleagues to JOIN their union.

If you have any questions about this bulletin please email FACSOrganising@psa.asn.au.

Update and Connect with the PSA: If you have moved home or work location, or you have changed your contacts, please update your membership details HERE.

Social Housing Management Transfer (SHMT) one year on…

Nov 17, 2017

Social Housing Management Transfer (SHMT) one year on… – November 2017 (PDF version)

Background

On 6 October 2016, the NSW Government announced it would transfer up to 35 per cent of NSW public housing services to private community housing providers. The move threatened the loss of 180 public sector jobs and the transfer of 18,000 public properties into private hands across four NSW districts – the Shoalhaven, Northern Sydney, Mid-North Coast and in the New England area.

Of the 180 employees, 92 have so far been placed in ongoing public sector roles in Housing through the Vacancy Management Strategy.  The PSA has worked hard to monitor this process through representation at Social Housing Management Transfer (SHMT) working group monthly meetings and to keep the department accountable for publishing and offering current housing vacancies first to the affected employees as a matter of priority.

We know the Social Housing Management Transfer is only the beginning of the Government’s broader plan for social housing privatization over the next decade. The ‘Future Directions for Social Housing’ discussion paper reveals the Government’s intention to collaborate with the private sector at all levels. The Government continues to promote the unfounded claim that the private sector will deliver better outcomes for the most vulnerable people in our community, including those living in social housing.

When the announcement was first made, the PSA immediately asserted in correspondence to assert our position that the provision of affordable public housing and the associated integrated support services to improve the quality of life for socially disadvantaged people is a fundamental public service, best provided and coordinated by the NSW Government and its highly skilled and experienced public sector workforce. No opportunity should be afforded for private operators to generate profit from delivering these services to the most disadvantaged members of our community. NSW Government funds should be prioritised for this function and for the proper maintenance of public housing stock and equity.

It is the PSA’s continuing position that there is no evidence to support claims that the new system of service provision will make a substantial impact on unmet demand for public, social and affordable housing demand now and in the future.

We have also noted the inequity of Reg 25A which the NSW Baird Government passed to deny otherwise eligible employees their severance and redundancy entitlements for the loss of their public sector jobs as the services are transferred.

Despite this landscape of threats to public sector jobs and entitlements in Housing, the PSA has remained on the front foot defending the interests of our members. We have engaged in proactive consultations with the department over the past year to navigate the best outcomes for members in “affected” districts and will continue to do so.

The announcement – 17 October 2017

As you would know, Minister Pru Goward announced the successful Community Housing Providers one year on from the original transfer announcement.

CHPs by locations, the providers are:

Hume Community Housing Association Ltd [Maitland and Port Stephens]

Compass Housing Services Co Ltd [Singleton, Cessnock, Dungog, Mid-Coast, Muswellbrook]

Homes North Community Housing Company Ltd [Gunnedah, Tamworth, Walcha, Liverpool Plains, Armidale-Dumaresq, Glen Innes, Gwydir, Guyra, inverell, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Tenterfield, Uralla]

Southern Cross Community Housing Ltd [Shoalhaven]

Mission Australia Housing [Coffs Harbour, Bellingen]

Community Housing Ltd [Nambucca, Kempsey, Port Macquarie, Hastings]

Link Housing Ltd [Ryde, Hornsby, Ku-ring-gai]

Bridge Housing Ltd [Northern Beaches and Mosman]

St George Community Housing Ltd [Northern Sydney, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Willoughby]

What’s next?

As SHMT affected employees, you would have received individual notification on the day of the Minister’s announcement outlining what will happen next and the timeframes.

The PSA has been assured by FACS that every individual staff member will have a one-on-one interview with HR to clarify your current duties and transferable skills and your circumstances matched with ‘comparable roles.’ The department has warranted to the PSA that whilst an indication of the number of ‘comparable roles’ has been given, this will not be finalized until after the interview process is complete. Once comparable roles have been identified, affected staff will be notified to put in an EOI for the particular role.

Obligations

If you are identified as having a ‘comparable role’ with the relevant Community Housing Provider (CHP) you are obligated to put in an Expression of Interest. If you are not identified or not successful in obtaining that role, you will be placed on the mobility pathway and assisted to find another public sector role.

Opportunities

The FACS training funding for SHMT ‘affected’ employees is still available throughout the transition period. The PSA would encourage you to take this up opportunity for ‘funding to completion’ of a course you are interested in doing or a certification you are interested in obtaining.  FACS has warranted to the PSA that they will be providing workshops on CV preparation and interviewing skills in affected districts. Please let us know if there is other training and support that you believe would assist you in successfully gaining ongoing employment.

PSA commitment to you

The PSA remains committed to the following objectives on behalf of our Housing members:

  1. To maximize the preservation of housing placement, tenancy services and corporate knowledge within the public sector to service the most disadvantaged and high needs clients;
  2. Ensure wherever possible that all ‘affected’ PSA Housing members secure ongoing employment in the public sector
  3. Ensure ‘comparable employment’ is truly realized and the new regulation (25A) is not used to disadvantage PSA Housing members;
  4. For PSA members who transfer to private sector providers, to ensure a fair and equitable transfer package, including the retention of all current terms and conditions of employment, and an enforceable guarantee of both their employment and these terms and conditions for the longest possible time, (minimum two years);

PSA Staff

Kris Cruden – Industrial Manager

Siobhan Callinan – Senior Organiser

Katy Ambler – Industrial Officer

You can support the work of the PSA and your local delegates by asking your colleagues to JOIN their union.

If you have any questions about this bulletin please email: FACSOrganising@psa.asn.au.

Update and Pay with the PSA: If you have moved home or work location, or you have changed your contacts, please update your membership details HERE.

Housing update: Congratulations on your new delegates

Oct 31, 2017

Housing update – Congratulations on your new delegates – October 2017 (PDF version)

The PSA wishes to advise that the following delegates have been elected to The Housing Departmental Committee (DC):

Angela Denham – METROPOLITAN

Chris Touvelos – METROPOLITAN

David Mathias – METROPOLITAN

Richard Higgins – METROPOLITAN

Sage Benishay – METROPOLITAN

Satvindar Singh – METROPOLITAN

Staci Crutchfield – METROPOLITAN

Tina Te Aho-Wilson – METROPOLITAN

Lisa Kennedy – METROPOLITAN

Theresa Khoury – METROPOLITAN

Sonia Rhodes – NORTHERN NSW

Rodney (Dean) McDonald – WESTERN NSW

Lynelda Rowe – HUNTER/CENTRAL COAST

PSA delegates represent you with management

Your union represents your interests at meetings with management called Joint Consultative Committees (JCCs). The purpose of a JCC is to establish a regular forum for issues and concerns to be raised with management and addressed collaboratively.

If you have collective workplace issues you’d like raised at your next JCC get in contact with your local or DC delegate.

Free PSA training courses for members and delegates

PSA union training is open to all PSA members, not just delegates.

Non-members wishing to attend training will need to submit a membership application form first.

We offer a variety of courses and PSA members have access to 12 days’ paid leave each two-year period to attend PSA training courses. For more information go to psa.asn.au/training.

Know someone who isn’t a member?

A strong union means better outcomes for all members; forward this bulletin to your colleagues and encourage your workmates to JOIN the PSA today.

Having your union and its collective strength behind you in the workplace is the only way to make sure you get fair outcomes.

Housing Contact Centre (HCC) PSA members have their say

Oct 25, 2017

Housing Contact Centre (HCC) PSA members have their say – October 2017 (PDF version)

We congratulate PSA delegates and members from the Housing Contact Centre for conducting and participating in a survey between 9 and 27 September 2017 to gauge member concerns about the HCC restructure and workplace conditions.

Eighty eight (88) members responded to the survey. 65 percent of participants were Client Service Officers but it received broad representation from all levels and areas within the organisation.

Fifty eight (58) ongoing employees responded and 30 temporary employees.

Of these, 99 percent of respondents are employed directly by the Department. 18 percent of respondents are currently acting in another role other than their substantive role.

Communication about the HCC restructure

Seventy two (72) percent of respondents believe there has been inadequate communication of information and updating provided by management about the restructure.

What members want

Respondents expected clear, open, honest and transparent information on the restructure and how it will affect all staff, and should be provided on a regular basis. Respondents indicated that clearer communication would ease the mental stress of the restructure and prevent misinformation from spreading.

Respondents believed management communications should include:

  • Information on how roles will change, dates of changes, feedback from interviews, the announcement of successful candidates and an organisational chart
  • Respondents emphasised that that information should be provided in plain language to ensure it is easily understood. Members believe they should be consulted on what will work best and what support will be needed from floor staff.

Development opportunities or roles offered under EOI processes

Fifty one (51) percent of respondents believed that EOI processes have not been transparent.

Numerous respondents indicated that roles were consistently offered to friends and family of upper management.

A number of respondents indicated that some staff selected for roles did not have the equivalent experience of other staff who were not and that some of those selected for new roles won positions several grades above their current level.

Workload

Respondents linked their concerns regarding workload, loss of support and the appointment of inexperienced staff to negative impacts on performance for staff and clients. They also raised concerns around the loss of knowledgeable, long term staff.

HCC Quarterly Consultation meeting with the PSA

The following people attended the JCC on 12 October 2017:

From the PSA: Industrial Officer, Katy Ambler, together with your PSA delegates, Grace Borsellino, Satvindar Singh and David Matthias.

From HCC management: Daryn Fallshaw, and three recently appointed managers Sarah Starr, Sam Lambropoulos and Kathryn Barker.

Your survey results informed the PSA’s discussion with management, to address your concerns.

The survey results provided clear evidence to management that the morale of staff is low and that clearer communication and transparency of processes is required to alleviate the anxiety of a workplace in a state of flux, and subject to rumour and innuendo.

Management agreed that they want to rectify the negative culture that is generated by this uncertainty.

Operations Leaders

The PSA sought clarification of the current employment status, parameters and management’s plans for the former Operations Leaders.These roles were technically due to be deleted on 30 September 2017 as part of the Cluster Operating Model (COM) restructure but currently remain employed at the HCC. We also requested that we be provided with a timeframe for the commencement of Phase 5.

Recruitment and Acting up opportunities

The PSA asked to be pointed to the current processes that are being undertaken for recruitment and ‘acting up’ opportunities and we were assured that the GSE compliant processes on the intranet are being abided by.

We then insisted if this is the case, that there is a perception and communication problem between management and staff because the majority of employees believe proper processes are not being followed.

If this is a legacy from the past, then management should communicate this and allow it to be tested.

Management assured the PSA that all employees who are unsuccessful in their applications are entitled to individual detailed feedback concerning their application strengths and weaknesses.

The PSA asserted that this is essential for transparency and maintaining fairness.

We appreciate your participation in the survey as we understand this is a difficult period for our members at the Housing Contact Centre. Please continue to communicate workplace issues and concerns with your workplace delegates and PSA staff. This will inform our ongoing discussions with management on your behalf.

Our next consultation with management (JCC) meeting is scheduled for 22 November 2017.

PSA Staff

Katy Ambler – Industrial Officer

Vivette Horrex – Organiser

You can support the work of the PSA and your local delegates by asking your colleagues to JOIN their union.

If you have any questions about this bulletin please email: FACSOrganising@psa.asn.au

Update and Pay with the PSA: If you have moved home or work location, or you have changed your contacts, please update your membership details HERE.

PSA consultation over Housing Office relocations

Oct 23, 2017

PSA consultation over Housing Office relocations – October 2017 (PDF version)

The PSA is aware that across NSW a number of our Housing members face the prospect of office relocation. Consultation between the PSA and FACS management concerning these relocations is regular and ongoing.

Accommodation Guidelines Working Group

At peak level, the PSA participates in the Accommodation Guidelines Working Group chaired by the FACS Manager of Accommodation Planning, Procurement, Strategy and Planning, who coordinates all Housing Services office relocations and office fit-outs across the state. This group meets monthly. Already your union has been able to deliver positive outcomes for members in this forum.

In particular we have had input concerning: workstations and adjustability, LED lighting, parking, space planning and security issues.

You may not be aware how you can be directly involved in the outcomes that affect you and your workmates.

Office relocation projects – Planning Advisory Groups (PAGs)

At local level, Planning Advisory Groups (PAGs) provide a forum for direct consultation between FACs and impacted workers. It is important to have PSA member representation on PAGs; and for those who attend these consultations to report back to other members in affected offices about the relocation project. PSA member input in these groups is an invaluable and influential contribution that can affect different outcomes.

The PAG will typically consist of the following representatives:

  • a client liaison officer from Accommodation Planning, Finance & Procurement
  • a project manager
  • architects/designers
  • staff representatives from each client service stream involved in the project (usually no more than 4-6 people depending on the size of the project)
  • a management representative (usually someone who sits on the District Executive)
  • a Work, Health and Safety representative
  • a staff association delegate.

Role of PAG members

PAG members are required to advise and provide recommendations on the facilities required for current and future service delivery. It is important the PAG represents the needs of all staff involved in the office change. On completion of each PAG meeting, the discussions and outcomes should be shared with all other members of the office.

The PAG develops the office design, in accordance with the Office Accommodation Design Guidelines. When finalised, members of the PAG endorse the agreed design which is then submitted to the District Executive for endorsement. The endorsed design is submitted to the Manager, Accommodation Planning or Director, Procurement Strategy and Planning in Finance & Procurement for final approval. Once approved the project proceeds on the basis of the approved design.

Staff representatives are to ensure that the key service delivery and staff requirements for an office are outlined at the PAG meeting. Their key role is to outline how the office will function, advise on inter-team synergies, ensure client service requirements are met in the design and to provide feedback on PAG discussions and outcomes to all other staff effected by the project.

Are you on a PAG? Let us know

Email us at FACSOrganising@psa.asn.au and let us know if you are a PAG staff representative. We can provide you with information and additional support to carry out your role.

Relocations

If you have any concerns over a proposed relocation that may affect your Housing office and/or would like to be involved in a PAG, please talk to your workplace delegates, your PSA organiser or industrial officer. The PSA continues to support your concerns over relocation being raised with FACs management at both a peak and local level.

PSA Staff

Kris Cruden – Industrial Manager

Siobhan Callinan – Senior Organiser

Katy Ambler – Industrial Officer

Your PSA Organisers

Cora Sarmiento – Organiser
Nepean Blue Mts & Sydney Districts

Jason Saunders – Organiser
Northern Sydney District

Nigel Miles – Organiser
South Eastern Sydney District

Vivette Horrex – Organiser
South Western Sydney District

Jan Jeffries – Regional Coordinator

Paul James – Organiser
Central Coast/Newcastle/Hunter Regions

Tony Heathwood – Organiser
Wollongong/ South Eastern Region

Michelle Macintosh – Organiser
South West Region

Steve Mears – Organiser
North West Region

Belinda Pearce – Organiser
Central West Region

Asren Pugh – Organiser
Northern Region

You can support the work of the PSA and your local delegates by asking your colleagues to JOIN their union.

If you have any questions about this bulletin please email: FACSOrganising@psa.asn.au

Update and Connect with the PSA: If you have moved home or work location, or you have changed your contacts, please update your membership details HERE.

Housing Contact Centre restructure survey

Sep 20, 2017

Housing Contact Centre restructure survey – September 2017 (PDF version)

We need your feedback

The following survey has been designed by your workplace delegates to gauge feedback in regard to the HCC restructure which has come about because of the FACS Cluster Operating Model (COM) restructure.

The previous Operations Leader roles at the HCC are to be deleted under the COM, and new job descriptions designed for the Team Leader roles. To date we are not sure if there will be any impact on the Client Service Officer roles or Housing Contact Centre functions.

To ensure workplace delegates are fully informed, we are surveying staff about the HCC Restructure.

The survey data collected will be used to address the issues impacting the HCC members. If you prefer, you can answer all questions and write comments anonymously.

It should take less than five minutes to complete the survey, and we encourage you to take advantage of the comments field after each question.

This is your chance to have your say! Survey closes Tuesday, 26 September 2017.

Click the link HERE to complete the survey.

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