Power House Museum – Dispute Update - Public Service Association

Power House Museum – Dispute Update

The PSA was in the Industrial Relations Commission yesterday in relation to the closure of the Ultimo Museum and the relocation of staff that resulted from that.

As part of the dispute the PSA is asking for the following information to be provided:

  1. A revised Workforce Location plan for 2024 – 2027 that clearly details the expected time frames for staff relocation from Ultimo to Castle Hill,


  1. What flexible working arrangements including working from home arrangements will be available and the process for how staff can apply for such arrangements.


  1. The new Relocation Plan should also identify what staff will be expected to return to the Ultimo Museum upon its reopening following the refurbishment.


  1. In addition to staff relocations, the PSA also has a significant interest in the operational plan as per Clause 65. Consultation and Technological Change of the Crown Employees (Public Service) Conditions of Employment) Award 2009.


  1. There are a few operational issues, for example how will the library operate across three sites which the PSA seeks more detailed information and consultation on.


  1. The PSA also has an interest in the refurbishment plans and an undertaking from the Ministers Office to be engaged with the consultation process, in addition to those plans the PSA also has serious concerns as to the removal of the collection from the Ultimo Museum during its refurbishment and again seeks more detailed information than that which has so far been provided.


  1. A copy of the advice and that the staff had to be relocated now for safety and financial reasons and a copy of any risk assessment conducted at the sites.


In addition to the above, the PSA has also proposed that a Working Group should also be formed with Management, Staff and PSA representation to work through the number of issues that have been identified.

Of particular concern for the PSA is the impact on those staff who will have Castle Hill as their designated work location and the flexibility that will be afforded to them to adjust to that worksite.

Serious questions remain as to the practicality and suitability of Building J, some of these issues go to the lighting and glazing of the building, accessibility, appropriateness of the hot desk arrangements, separation of the kitchen and more.

The location at Castle Hill is not readily accessible via public transport and the PSA wants more positive flexibility from the employer rather than the current proposal which requires the employee to request a Flexible Working Arrangement.

The one thing that this has clarified for the PSA is that we still have more questions than answers. So far, despite the significant announcement by the Minister that Ultimo will be retained as the museum that the public has known and loved for the last 40 years, the Powerhouse Museum Management have been strident in their confirmation that the staff location plans as of November 2022 remain unaffected.

When asked will staff return from Castle Hill or Parramatta after the Ultimo site reopens the answer has been an emphatic ‘no’, which raises more concerns.  The Powerhouse advised yesterday that new staff would be hired in the future when the Ultimo site reopens.

This week was the first time the PSA has formally been advised of this information.

The decision has been made without consultation and without any consideration for the expertise of current staff. How can an internationally renowned museum of applied arts and sciences be opened at Ultimo without the committed, long serving and highly skilled staff that work with the collection?

What’s Next?

The PSA will now send further correspondence to the Powerhouse setting out its concerns in detail.   The next report back in the IRC is on 13 March 2024 and the Powerhouse has committed that there will be no staff relocations to Castle Hill prior to that date, we understand now that some staff are scheduled to move there from 18 March 2024.


The PSA wants to ensure that staff who relocate from Ultimo to Castle Hill as their designated headquarters are afforded best practice when it comes to flexibility. To help us do that, we need to know what you would need to assist in relocating to, and working from Castle Hill.


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