Office of Sport – Sport and Recreation centres – October update
The PSA has written to every member of Parliament in NSW, including the Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres, urging them to keep the centres in the capable hands of the Public Service. Your union is also seeking meetings to discuss the issue.
Mr Ayres is yet to reply to the PSA. However, delegations, including PSA staff and members, have attended several meetings with the MPs who have acknowledged our grievances. The PSA General Secretary has met with the Shadow Minister for Education, Jihad Dib, this week. He asked to present the Sport and Recreation petition to Parliament when it is ready.
The PSA has written to the Independent Education Union, the NSW P&C Association and the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) seeking support for the our campaign against privatising functions of Sport and Recreation centres. The NSWTF and the NSW P&C Association have both written to Minister Ayres.
The PSA has also received, following the lodgement of a Government Information Public Access application, a list of corporate, school and government clients who used the Sport and Recreation centres between July 2014 and July 2015. Our intention is to write to them for support in our campaign against outsourcing of the centres.
PSA notifies dispute over lack of consultation
After listing a dispute regarding the lack of consultation in the Industrial Relation Commission (IRC), an agreement was reached with the Department to allow for representation from each of the 11 centres at a meeting between the PSA and Office of Sport (OoS) management. Included in the agreement was planning time for the representatives beforehand, costs for travel and the representative being able to report back to members in work time.
This meeting was to occur prior to the issue going to Cabinet and OoS has agreed to another meeting after Cabinet has considered the matter. Between those meetings there would be monthly teleconference meetings between the parties. This agreement was formally tabled in the IRC on 26 September.
The consultation meeting with OoS management was held last Friday 7 October. Accompanying Matt Miller CEO, was Phil Hamdorf, Executive Director Sport and Recreation; Veronica Lee, Executive Director of Corporate Services; Nora Fenton, Manager, Workplace Relations People and Culture; and Col Robinson, Manager Centre Development. There were representatives from eight of the centres in attendance and a representative on teleconference.
We were advised the submission to Cabinet will be crafted in the next few weeks. OoS management informed the PSA it anticipated the submission will go before Cabinet in early December, but it could be pushed back to February or March. Management also told the PSA tthe submission to Cabinet would ask the question of whether the OoS should continue to explore the blended delivery approach, and that there is no predetermined decision.
Matt Miller said there was no argument about the value of the current service, but they are seeking to establish if the present structure is the best way to continue service into the future. He will visit all Sport and Recreation centres personally by early November. This is the opportunity to make it loud and clear that you oppose privatisation of any or all aspects of the centres.
The PSA and delegates pressed concerns during the meeting regarding a probable decline in high standards and governance of centres after privatisation. The PSA seeks that a high level service with guarantees of accessibility to all, including the elderly, disabled, indigenous, and those in lower socio-economic areas of the community. Those standards should also include a stringent focus upon health, safety and welfare.
The PSA asked if there would be one or multiple operators. That decision remains open.
Matt Miller advised that if the Government says to go to market, it is implicit that the service would be the same or better and that the ability to meet high standards would be a part of any tender. He advised that proposed standards would be provided to the PSA and discussions would commence if Government gave the go ahead.
The PSA maintains the view that Sport and Recreation centres are a public service, not a private enterprise and play an important part in the NSW education curriculum. It is not satisfactory to say that if an operator does not meet the standards already established by our highly qualified members, that Government may go back to tender.
The representatives from the facilities put forward strong arguments to support the continuation of Sport and Recreation Centres as a public service to the NSW community and should be congratulated.
The campaign continues
It is vital that the campaign against privatisation of any part of Sport and Recreation centres continue in the months leading up to the anticipated cabinet decision in December. With the State Government increasingly unpopular, now is the perfect time to expose Baird’s Secret Sell Off and use the leverage to fight for Sport and Recreation centres to stay in public hands.
Completed petitions are continuing to flood in, however we need a lot more if we are to force a debate in Parliament. The PSA urges members to gain as many signatures as possible, and return the originals to the PSA via post, as no photocopied, faxed or emailed petition will be accepted by Parliament. You can download a copy of the petition HERE.
Whilst the protest on Wednesday 21 September was successful in gaining media around the privatisation of Sport and Recreation centres, further actions are required to keep this issue in the minds of media and the wider community. The PSA is conducting members meetings across the 11 centres over the next two months, where members will have a chance to decide what action they would like to take, including MP meetings, distributing petitions at local events, work bans and stop work meetings.
Update and Connect with the PSA
Please check that your contact details are up to date in the PSA’s membership system. We need work and home telephone contact and email addresses and you can update your membership details HERE