PSA General Assistants Term 1 update: Your pay, COVID-19 workload, school holidays and more - Public Service Association

PSA General Assistants Term 1 update: Your pay, COVID-19 workload, school holidays and more

The PSA General Assistants Advisory Group had their term 1 quarterly meeting on Tuesday 22 February 2022 to discuss current collective industrial issues affecting our General Assistant (GA) members in schools. Items discussed at GA Advisory Group included:

COVID-19 processes and requirements contribute to increased workload, pressures and fatigue

The requirement by law for all school based staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19, along with the introduction of new health and safety processes and personal protective equipment (PPE) by the Department of Education (DoE) over the past two years to limit infection rates, has seen an increase in the vital role performed by GAs in NSW schools.

Without any additional resources, pandemic-related workload on top of the work already undertaken by GAs has placed significant pressures and increased fatigue on members throughout NSW.

The PSA has also heard from SAS Staff Delegates to the Schools Departmental Committee that they are having difficulty getting GAs to back fill leave or vacant positions. GA members have asked if there is a staff freeze for GAs.

The PSA raised this with the Department and was advised there is no staff freeze on GA recruitment.

The PSA strongly advocates the filling and backfilling of all vacant Full Time Equivalent (FTE) and Part Time GA roles in the NSW state school system. Additionally, the PSA believes the Department must continue to explore and provide flexible work arrangements and opportunities for our GA members wherever possible.

Public Sector Wages Policy: Government stops public servants getting real wage increases

In 2011, the NSW Coalition Government legislated to keep Public Sector employees wages down, by capping future wage claims by Public Sector unions to 2.5 per cent per annum under its wages policy.

Inflation growth, along with federal superannuation contribution increases and a cap on salary increases, has seen real wages of GAs and other Public Sector workers severely impacted.

This was compounded in 2020 when the NSW Government attempted to freeze Public Sector Wages and the PSA’s dispute in the NSW IRC, with the Commission awarding a paltry 0.3 per cent pay increase to Public Servants.

With discussions around Award Wage increases in the Public Service being imminent, the PSA has advised the Premier that it will be seeking a minimum 3.6 per cent wage claim for 2022.

It is expected that the NSW Government will continue to fight the union’s push for a decent wage rise to reduce cost of living pressures that affect all workers – with the exception of the politicians, whose salaries continue to rise while ordinary workers are expected to tighten their belts.

Read more about the PSA Campaign HERE

PSA GA Handbook

The PSA has developed a handbook for GA members to support them to understand their rights in the workplace, requirements of their role (GA Role Description) and key industrial issues that affect them at work. The handbook should be available for distribution to members in Term 2.

Permanent conversion of temporary to ongoing GA role

Temporary GA members who believe they have met the criteria for conversion under the Government Sector Employment Act (GSE) can ask for conversion to ongoing employment.

To be eligible to request conversion, temp GAs need to have:

  1. Gained their employment via a proper merit selection process which includes external advertisement, job application and successful at interview for the temporary GA role
  2. Been employed in their GA role for a minimum of 12 months
  3. Satisfactory employment with no performance or conduct issues while working in their GA role
  4. The necessary skills, qualification, experience and capabilities to perform their GA role.

Any GA member who believes they satisfy all elements of the above criteria for conversion from temporary to ongoing should contact the PSA with their details so we can support and advise them as well as following up with DoE on their behalf.

GA’s growth and engagement plan for 2022

The PSA and our GAAG Delegates are looking at ways to improve our representation, advocacy and engagement of GA’s collective issues and concerns to maximise our ability to build strength and power to get positive outcomes.

Increasing the numbers of GA union members gives the PSA a stronger voice in bargaining and advocating for GA members. The PSA expects to have to go into battle with an anti-worker NSW Coalition Government for a decent pay rise of at least 3.6 per cent. Now is the time for GAs to join the fight for decent conditions at work and join the union.

School holidays – quick reminders for GAs

  1. Members should make sure that working alone risk assessments are done if you are working over the holidays.
  2. If your school is part of the Come Share Our Space program, the risk assessment should include reviewing this and any COVID restrictions, or safety measures, that may be in place or if additional measures may be needed.
  3. GAs are not required to look after contractors.
  4. Stay safe: make sure you have the contact name and phone number of the person, usually the Principal, who you are going to ring or text each day you arrive and leave the school.

Next GA Advisory Group Meeting – 2 June

The next meeting will be on 2 June.  If you have issues you would like discussed at the GA Advisory Group, contact your relevant delegate below:

Alison Crittenden Sutherland North Public School South East Sydney and Wollongong
Michael Burrell Blacktown Boys High School Western Sydney
Philip Crowe Northern Beaches College – Freshwater Campus Northern Sydney
Steve Smith Cobar High School Far West NSW
Wayne Gaw Armidale Secondary College – Duval Campus North West NSW
Bill Martin Vincentia High School South East NSW
Sam Sale Wadalba Community School Hunter/Central Coast
Hayden Berry Spring Farm Public School South West Sydney


Your industrial contacts

Latu Sailosi GA Organiser

Anthony Wright GA Industrial Officer

Member Support Centre 1300 772 679

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