Ministry of Health and Public Service Association Report of Meeting of Joint Consultative Committee (JCC)
PSA Delegates Julie Westacott and John Bertacco, PSA Industrial Officer Carmel McKeough and Senior Organiser Siobhan Callinan met with Trevor Craft Director, Industrial Relations & Workforce Management and Jenny Del Rio, Senior Workplace Relations Advisor on 5 April 2017.
Issues discussed included:
Discussion focussed on the need to adhere to Agency Change Management Guidelines and ensure appropriate consultation with staff and their union.
- Proposed relocation to St Leonards
The PSA advised the Ministry we had previously met with Minister Hazzard, where we raised concerns about possible further organisational change and the need for consultation with staff and unions earlier rather than later in the process.
The Ministry referred to the establishment of a sub JCC to consult with staff and the PSA about the relocation. We took the opportunity to advise that when we are provided with information, we need time to consider and analyse material before providing feedback. The Ministry gave an undertaking that it would not be a regular occurrence for papers to be collected at the end of a meeting (as occurred at the first meeting of the sub JCC in January 2017).
- Ministry’s Definition of an Agile Workplace
The PSA noted the Ministry’s statements that the new facility at St Leonards will be an agile workplace and we asked what this means for staff. We were advise this is still being defined but the emphasis will be on collaboration, breaking down silos, new ways of working, a paper light office, better use of technology and improving governance processes. These are things that have been said many times before and the PSA will continue to press the Ministry about the implications for staff.
- Work, health and safety
The PSA requested advice about the Ministry’s policies, procedures and guidelines and were advised they are on the Mintranet. The PSA encourages members to familiarise themselves with the employer’s obligations to ensure you have a safe working environment. If you believe more information is required on the Mintranet please discuss with your delegates in the first instance.
Access to WHS on the Mintranet is by “Hub”, then “Working at the Ministry”, then “Work Health and Safety”.
The Ministry reported a decrease in WHS incidents over the last two months which is welcome news.
- Public Service Commission’s Flexible Working Discussion Paper HERE
The PSA asked if the Ministry had made a submission and could it be shared with staff and their union. The Ministry advised it was generally supportive, a submission had been made to the PSC and it would not be shared with either the PSA or staff. Given the importance of flexible working to our members the PSA finds this response unsatisfactory and will be writing to the Secretary to request a copy of the Ministry’s submission.
- Social media policy and training
The PSA advised that the Code of Conduct does not provide adequate direction about the use of social media by staff particularly in light of misconduct provisions in the Government Sector Employment Act 2013. We noted that the Ministry does not have a standalone social media policy which is in contrast to many other NSW Government Departments. We also noted the NSW Government’s Social Media Policy and Guidelines HERE which are to be reviewed. The PSA suggested that the Ministry should be part of this review.
The Ministry advised social media training is part of the induction program and acknowledged refresher training would be helpful for staff. The Ministry gave an undertaking to further consider ways of promoting social media training and will place an article in “Ministry Matters”. The PSA encourages members to pursue access to social media training with their Directors.
- Contractors in the Ministry of Health
There are currently 118 contractors employed, which is of great concern to the PSA as it means less ongoing roles for public servants. The Ministry advised that contractors are employed on the basis that they already have specific skills required for their role and should only need training in key areas such as work, health and safety. The PSA expressed concern about contractors accessing expensive training programs at taxpayers’ expense when their appointment to the public sector is for a specific, time limited task.
The Ministry agreed to provide a regular report on contractor numbers at future JCC meetings.
The next meeting of the JCC will be on 14 June 2017. If members wish to have issues raised at the JCC please contact your delegates at least three weeks prior to the meeting.
PSA members have access to advice, support and representation, either via the PSA’s Member Support Centre (ph 1300 772 679) or by contacting your local delegates, the PSA’s Industrial Officer or Senior Organiser.