SafeWork Inspectors Dispute – Competencies and After Hours Response Service
The PSA (represented by Industrial Staff and your Vocational Group Executive) was again before the Industrial Relations Commission over the ongoing dispute around Inspector competencies and the appointment of Inspectors to the State and Assistant State Inspector roles, as well as the Department’s attempt to amend clause 12, After Hours Response Service of the Award through the section 19 award review.
Competency dispute – proposed amendment to clause 16.1 of the Award
There has been some significant progress with regards to the dispute over clause 16.1 of the Award which is the appointment of Inspectors to the classification of State, Assistant, Principal and Senior Inspector.
At this time an in principle agreement has been reached which will amend the Award to the following (subject to further discussions):
16.1 Progression to and / or any appointment of a candidate who does not hold the position of an Inspector to the Inspector Classifications of Senior Inspector, Principal Inspector, Assistant State Inspector and State Inspector will be subject to, amongst other requirements, consideration of pre-established merit selection and competency standards for the role as specified in the Memorandum of Understanding.
The clause no longer references existing Inspectors, however clause 19 and 20 of the Award remain unchanged which provides progression for existing Inspectors. It is also important to note that the PSA has retained the reference back to the MOU which was not in the Departments initial proposal.
This amendment will resolve the conflict between the Award and the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 where the Department in the PSA’s view has been in a technical breach of the Award when appointing Inspectors to a classification who do not hold the actual competencies required.
The PSA is still in consultation with the Department as to the pre-established merit selection criteria which will be incorporated into Schedule 3 of the MOU.
After Hours Response Service
The Department has been attempting to use the s. 19 Review of Award of the Industrial Relations Act 1996 to make changes to clause 12 of the Award – After Hours Response Service that would remove the current ‘voluntary’ participation by Inspectors.
The PSA remains strongly opposed to this for several reasons. First, there is a significant jurisdiction argument for the PSA about the use of s.19 to amend a condition of employment which would have a significant impact on all Awards under the state industrial relations system if allowed to proceed.
Second and just as importantly, the proposed changes by the Department impacts on an actual condition of employment for Inspectors and at this time there has been no trade-off or any other reasonable offer given for the loss of that condition.
The PSA is aware that this is a deeply felt issue for many members. A range of suitable alternative options to increase participation in the AHERS without removing the ‘voluntary’ nature of participation, have been provided to the Department for consideration.
To date the Department has not engaged in meaningful consultation around the effectiveness of those options.
At this point the Department has signaled its intention not to proceed by way of s.19 but have foreshadowed that they still intend to pursue this amendment and will make an application within a month’s time to vary the Award.
The PSA is aware that this is a deeply felt issue for many members and that suitable alternative options outside of losing the ‘voluntary’ nature of participation have been provided to the Department for consideration.
What happens next?
The Commission has now adjourned the s.19 review for a month. The parties will look to amend clause 16.1 of the Award and following that the PSA will discontinue the s. 130 dispute on clause 16 – Competency Assessment.
The continuation of the s.19 is of use to the PSA as it keeps the ongoing discussions with the department over the MOU within the jurisdiction of the Commission.
With regards to the After Hours Response Service this is dependent upon the Department making an application to the Commission to vary the Award.