At the Joint Consultative Committee Meeting between the PSA and management of Parliament held on 19 March we were advised that whilst a meeting relating to the COVID-19 virus prevented Mark Webb from attending this particular meeting he had stated that he would not attend further JCCs until a disagreement regarding the attendance of delegates was resolved.
The disagreement is based on the fact that the delegate is employed from the Leader of the Opposition’s office and therefore under Department of Premier’s and Cabinet (DPC) as opposed to being employed by Parliament.
The PSA made it clear that it is the union who determines who its delegates are and that this is an essential premise under which we operate. Additional to this is the important point that this same delegate is based at Parliament, is effected by the same day to day conditions as other staff employed there, and is a valuable source of support to other PSA members. Only recently has this delegate moved to the role under DPC, and they have been significantly involved in canvassing members in relation to conditions as well as being involved in an informal bargaining process relating to the MOPS Determination.
The PSA will be engaging further with management on their refusal to recognise our Delegates.
Parliament advised that they have developed a plan (Parliament of NSW Influenza Pandemic Plan – March 2020) with several phases of response. We were told that this plan is available on the Parliament internet. We are advised that there is communication from Mark Webb daily. This covers Parliament House as well as Electorate Offices.
Andrew Kiejda in DPS is a central point of contact and is currently off-line from other duties focusing on the virus issue. In terms of communication e-mails are still being used but we were further advised that the Telstra Instant Messaging Service (TIMS) will be used to enable them to provide notifications to those signed up to it if required.
At time of writing Parliament remains open. School excursions have been cancelled by Department of Education limiting some visitors. At this stage the Sitting Calendar is going ahead, and Parliament will sit on Tuesday. If people are unwell they should not come in.
A tool kit is being developed in relation to working from home. They are looking at, and working on, technology to maximise the ability to work from home effectively. Management have expressed they have concerns about social isolation for people working from home and EAPS is available to assist.
Casual employees in some cases are being redeployed to other work where feasible and appropriate. There are options to pay casual where work is not available if there was a reasonable expectation of work were it not for the COVID-19 virus.
Advice has been provided to Members in Electorate Offices and decisions to work from home will be determined on a case by case basis. Offices may work as normal, but may have appropriate signage with advice to visitors attending. In some cases they may remain open but closed to the public (contactable by email or phone), and in other cases closed entirely. We were advised that extra remote access tokens, if required, will not be at the cost of the Electorate Office.
The PSA urges its members to actively look after their own health and that of others.