The following are some of the key points from the most recent Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) meeting between the PSA and Local Land Services (LLS) management.
Management began the meeting by advising it had put out a message to employees emphasising safety as their prime objective in light of the fires currently causing devastation throughout the state. Non-essential travel is banned due to risk. EAPS programs are operating. The PSA recognises there are many employees within LLS who are providing assistance to others in the community and are part of the community impacted.
We were advised there were no restructures taking place and that we would be advised and consulted if that were to occur. The PSA raised concerns that not all GMs may be aware of the obligation to consult and the agreed processes between the PSA and management. We stated we wanted further awareness to filter across the managers. This could include the provision of minutes from the JCC.
As stated in a recent DPIE-wide bulletin from the PSA we know there will be discussions in the new year regarding where further cuts may be required across DPIE but there was a commitment to consultation prior to that. Nothing will occur before the new year.
Aboriginal Employment Strategy
It appears that with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy management may be taking positive actions but we need more specifics. We also strongly value the issue being properly discussed at JCCs. In the future we will receive a brief report in advance of JCCs to enable valuable discussions.
People Matters Survey
Management advised it is digging down further into the recent survey and will provide more information in the near future in regard to strategies to improve areas of most concern. Discussion occurred around the reading of survey results. For instance, Management suggested that recruitment might be less of an issue due to there being no appeals against decisions in a long period of time. The PSA indicated that silence is not always an indication of acceptance. It can be due to a lack of trust the appeal will be taken seriously.
The PSA is strongly of the view that appeal processes have been significantly weakened under the Government Sector Employment Act (GSE). No longer are they assessed in relation to who is most meritorious for a position. Appeals are now on the basis of whether proper procedure has been adhered to. The PSA urges that you put in appeals when you genuinely feel procedure has not been adhered to. Silence leads management to the view that all is well.
Work Health and Safety
This is a standard item on the JCC agenda. Management advised it was reassessing how it would provide info to the PSA in the future. No written reports or documentation was provided at the meeting but we were advised information is pending. We were advised vehicle incidents still appear to be the highest reported but this includes matters at the very low end of the scale. It is important to reiterate that members should make their safety a priority. Where travel is involved do so in a safe manner. Take rest breaks. Don’t speed. Take all appropriate precautions.
We reiterated our concerns about long term temp contracts and the impact on staff. Management advised it could not make someone permanent where funding was not ongoing and the length of contracts were impacted by the types of funding (such as if a project has two sources of funding then the timeframe for a specific contract was guided by the lesser timeframe of the two sources). The PSA argued it was becoming so complex that managers are unlikely to see opportunities to ameliorate or improve specific circumstances when they do exist.
Where possible the PSA wants to untangle some of these knots. Ultimately the questions are
- Is a person in a situation whereby they can be made permanent?
- If not, is a person’s fixed term (temporary) contract shorter then it need be (such as where funding is clearly defined as longer than the time defined in the person’s contract)?
We sought a two-pronged approach – we will bring specifics to management for discussion and strategy (where people feel comfortable providing us with that information) and we wanted management to do a top down assessment. There will be a Leadership Meeting in March where they will consider this. We will correspond with LLS well before then. We also advised we want management at the various levels to see our making contact on this issue as a positive thing. We want a mutual approach to resolution.
Budgets and Efficiencies
We discussed the budgetary situation and concerns regarding impacts in the new year. Whilst there was nothing new that management could add at this point (more information is pending in the new year) the PSA took the opportunity to reiterate the value brought to the wider community from the work performed by the employees of LLS. There is no more to cut.
Members have told us that they have been advised that purchasing meals on P Cards means they are not entitled to the appropriate allowance for meals under the award. We raised this with management and it acknowledge the P Card does not negate award conditions.
In circumstances where you are entitled to the allowance you should put in a claim for any difference between what you have paid via the PCIS and the allowance entitlement.
For further information, please view your Award via this link: Local Land Services Award 2018.