State Library consultation
In a dispute before Commissioner Murphy in the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW on 22 March 2016 between the PSA and The Office of the State Librarian, the Commissioner made clear and emphatic comments relating to the obligation for employers to consult when considering change in the work place.
The Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award 2009 states:
- 1, “There shall be effective means of consultation, as set out in the Consultative Arrangements Policy and Guidelines document, on matters of mutual interest and concern, both formal and informal, between management and Association.”
- 2, “The Departmental management shall consult with the Association prior to the introduction of any technological change.”
The Policy and Guidelines referred to in the Award are “The Consultative Arrangement Policy and Guidelines 1997”.
The PSA successfully defended this policy in 2014 in the Industrial Relations Commission when an attempt had been made to replace it with a weaker document.
The 1997 Policy and Guidelines were clearly recognised by the Commission in our dispute with The Office of the State Librarian, which came about when they commenced a restructure with no intent at all to include the PSA in consultative processes.
The employer argued that the need for change had arisen after the last JCC on November 2015. The Commissioner said:
“The fact that the drive of these changes occurred since the last JCC meeting in November, is no basis for not following the Consultative Arrangement Policy and Guidelines. Meetings can be called in between JCC meetings and there is an obligation, if these guidelines are to be properly adhered to, not just to the letter but in spirit, that proposals such as these be shared with the PSA and employees prior to any decision to approve, especially when the approval identifies six ongoing jobs to go and 10 temporary jobs, fairly significant change.”
The employer had also argued that the change was insignificant. The Commissioner proceeded:
“…clearly it’s not an insignificant change. It’s not just for those directly affected, the 16 positions, but also, as the union points out, those that are, as it were, left behind to presumably pick up the work that these employees outgoing will no longer be doing.
“They’re the sorts of things that should have been the subject of consultation, genuine consultation, prior to any decision being made, not just the identification of potential positions to be deleted but the impact of that on the remaining employees and it’s at that stage the policy and guidelines require and, as has been pointed out, this in an award provision, that these guidelines be followed and it’s at that stage, prior to any decision being made, that the guidelines require information to be shared and consultation to occur.”
He went on to say:
“It has become apparent that the changed management plan, which identifies six ongoing roles and 10 temporary roles at the library to be deleted, was approved by management prior to there having been any consultation about that plan with the Public Service Association and affected employees. That appears to be a clear breach of clause 65 of the Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award 2009.”
A link to the guidelines is HERE.