Site inspection, WHS, contractors and more
PSA officials and workplace delegates inspected the interim location at 100 Christie Street, St Leonards on 10 April 2019. Key concerns include the fact that based on current floor plans 134 staff are to be accommodated on level 10 but there are only 90 desks/seats. We also raised concerns about the lack of a secure storage area for Internal Audit branch and sought the Ministry’s assurance that Property NSW guidelines for office accommodation have been complied with. A number of WHS concerns were identified which are outlined in the attached report to the Ministry (refer HERE). We seek to work with the Ministry to resolve issues of concern before staff start to move to Christie Street in May.
Not all floors were ready so we will be returning to complete the site inspection. We will also be inspecting interim locations at Chatswood and Mount Street. Please advise the PSA if you have any further concerns about the interim relocation.
Following the site inspection, the last JCC and sub JCC meetings at 73 Miller Street were held. Key issues discussed included:
2.1 Health and Social Policy Restructure – we have been assured that there are no job losses and provided a submission to the Executive Director. Refer HERE to PSA’s submission.
2.2 Work Health and Safety Sector Plan – The Ministry advised that work had commenced on its response and a WHS Assessment Tool has been completed for NSW Health. A cluster self-assessment has also been completed. The PSA requested a presentation at the next JCC and again advised of the priority of a consultative process with the PSA and health unions.
2.3 WHS Committee – The Ministry is calling for nominations. We encourage members to join the Committee particularly in view of the move to 3 interim locations prior to the final move to St Leonards in 2020.
2.4 Contractors and Recruitment – There are 93 contractors currently engaged in the Ministry. Full details about contractors and recruitment over the last 2 months can be found HERE. The PSA noted the reduction in contractors compared with several months ago and again urged the Ministry to fill vacancies and appoint staff to ongoing roles. We particularly noted that 2 contractors have been engaged in units reporting to the Secretary for an extended period and sought a commitment to advertise these roles and fill them with ongoing appointments.
2.5 Mental Health – The PSA expressed our disappointment that the Ministry of Health had written to the PSC for advice and guidance instead of responding to the PSA’s resolution to develop a mental health strategy for Ministry employees. We will pursue further with Deputy Secretary Phil Minns, as we don’t believe bureaucratic obfuscation is appropriate for an agency that exists to improve the health and wellbeing of the community, but to date has refused to engage in developing a plan to address mental health challenges facing its own employees.
The PSA referred to wellbeing initiatives in the Department of Family and Community Services and provided contact details subsequent to the meeting.
2.8 Policy Directive re use of Equipment – The PSA requested advice on progress to update/amend Policy Directive 2015_046 Equipment Removal from Ministry of Health Premises. The current policy requires staff to sign a register to take equipment home, which may have been overtaken with the move to flexible/agile working and issuing of new laptops. It appears no progress has been made on reviewing this policy, which is unacceptable and creates a level of risk for staff who are working in a policy vacuum.
2.9 Efficiency Dividends – With the re-election of the State Government the 3% efficiency dividend announced in the 2018/19 budget for public sector agencies will proceed. This means cuts of 12% over four years with frontline services including nurses, teachers and police exempt. Cuts will be focussed on what the government disrespectfully refers to as the “back office” which encompasses many of the roles and functions of the Ministry.
If you become aware of proposed cuts to your branch please contact the PSA. The Ministry is required to consult with the PSA under clause 65.1 of the Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award 2009 and proposals need to include a change management plan. We have requested that priority is given to appropriate consultation with the PSA as proposals are developed by the Ministry to meet the required efficiency dividends.
We ask members to advise the PSA of any proposals they become aware of.
Next JCC meeting
The next JCC meeting will held on Wednesday, 12 June at 2pm. The sub JCC which is dedicated to the relocations commences at 1pm. Could you please provide agenda items to your workplace delegates:
Julie Westacott Julie.Westacott@health.nsw.gov.au