PSA Members Update - Public Service Association

PSA Members Update

Since our last communication to members, the staff relocation for many to Castle Hill has occurred, despite the objection of the PSA. During that time, there have also been a number of conferences before the Industrial Relations Commission as part of the latest dispute between the PSA and the Museum.

While this dispute was based on the PSA’s concerns at the lack of proper and meaningful consultation around the closure of Ultimo Museum and relocation of staff to Castle Hill and Parramatta, two very distinct and concerning matters have arisen as a result.

Castle Hill – Work, Heath and Safety Concerns

In response to receiving the risk assessment completed on 18 March which identified to various degrees certain risks to employees at the Castle Hill Building J, the Commissioner issued a direction to the Powerhouse on 19 March 2024 that:

“The employees of the Respondent will not be relocated to nor perform work at the new facilities of the Respondent at Castle Hill until the Respondent has complied with its’ obligations under the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) in respect to the Risk Assessment”

In what can only be described as an extraordinary round of meetings attended by the reconvened Work, Health and Safety Committee, and with a further two report backs to the Industrial Relations Commission and a slight deferment to the staff relocation to Castle Hill the Powerhouse has put its position that it considers that it has complied with its obligations and proceeded with the staff move on 25 March 2024.

The PSA put on record at the Industrial Relations Commission that it does not agree that the Powerhouse has complied with its work and health and safety obligations and we continue to have significant concerns in relation to WHS issues and the failure of the Powerhouse to consult with staff over WHS issues and other related matters.  The PSA will now seek the assistance of SafeWork NSW, and take other appropriate steps to address these matters.

In the interim, PSA members are urged to report any risk or hazard identified in the workplace through to the PSA and on your internal incident reporting so that we can raise these with the Powerhouse.

Access to genuine flexibility

The other key issue that has arisen through this dispute is the ongoing insistence by the Powerhouse that their current policies and arrangements for flexibility being the Powerhouse Work from Home Policy 2023 and the NSW Trade and Investment Flexible Working Hours Agreement are sufficient for staff.

The PSA does not agree and has attempted to negotiate a flexible working hours arrangement that would apply to Castle Hill.  The Museum has rejected this and continues to insist that every employee located at Castle Hill would need to make an individual application for flexible  working arrangements. This falls well short of the flexible work options now enjoyed by many employees across the NSW public sector post pandemic which has seen an increase to hybrid working models.

The current dispute and next steps

The Commission issued a certificate of attempted conciliation which meant the PSA had to consider whether to proceed with the current dispute which was initially based on a failure to properly consult on the closure of the Ultimo, relocation of staff, flexible working arrangements and other matters.

As the dispute has evolved the PSA has discontinued the current proceedings on the basis that the dispute has not resolved and the PSA will consider our further options on members behalf in relation to better flexible working arrangements for affected staff and WHS issues and a commitment that necessary staff will be returned to the Ultimo site when the Museum reopens in 2027

PSA Industrial and Legal staff will look to meet with members shortly to address in person issues arising from the relocation of staff to Castle Hill.



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