Finally, something about us - it’s election time

Elections for the Committee of Management take place every two years, and for the position of Secretary every four years. This year will see the NSW Electoral Commission conduct an election for us for our new Committee of Management, other than the position of Secretary which was elected for a four year term in 2018.

Last year the Committee acknowledged the reasons why a Committee of ten was simply too big for an organisation our size. These days, with electronic communications, everyone is in contact with each other, and our structure needs to respond.

So the Committee resolved at its November meeting to amend our rules to move from a ten person Committee of one President, two Vice Presidents, and six Members (plus the Secretary) to a more compact group of seven, one President, one Vice President and four Members, and the Secretary.

depa and the NSWEC have agreed on this timetable for the election:

3 March               depa provides electoral roll to NSWEC

9 March               NSWEC posts election notices to all financial members and on their website calling for nominations

24 March             Nominations close

If there are sufficient candidates for the vacant positions, they will be declared elected. And if there are more candidates than there are positions, an election will follow.

There are three members the current Committee who have chosen to not re-nominate. President Jo Doheny will retire from local government this year, Vice President Joanne Dunkerley has been hit with the often-impossible logistics of managing a school age daughter and Brendan Hayes, in his new job at Parkes, will focus on that and EDAP.

We note and appreciate Jo Doheny’s contribution over the last decade. A great delegate for us at Gosford initially, a member of the Committee of Management, a Vice President and for the last few years President. Thanks Jo. Joanne was on the Committee for almost that long as well after a long period as our delegate at Great Lakes. Thanks Joanne.

And thanks Brendan.

There is a democratic process to be followed and all financial members are able to nominate. Sometimes it is a struggle for us to fill the nine positions and those most interested in what we do are active delegates or members of the Consultative Committee, and there is a limit to what can be asked of a volunteer.

If anyone is interested in standing for election, give the office a ring and we can talk through what’s involved. Otherwise we have enough current members re-standing not to worry. Relax, nothing to see here.

 

Sydney City can’t help being nominated for our HR awards

What is it with Sydney City? The City, boasting its progressive credentials in employment, has been nominated more than any other Council in our annual Worst HR Local Government awards. This progressive stuff is simply a façade, inclusion is gorgeous, we all support it, but getting a finger out and dealing with an application by your own managers for the introduction of nine day fortnight for their staff, consistent with the provisions in the City Award allowing this process to be considered, shouldn’t be sitting around ignored for almost a year.

We had members involved in the drafting of that submission to which there was no proper response, then members resolving that we do what we could to get some action happening under the terms provided expressly in the Award, which we did, to be confronted with the City’s Impossible GoSlow. A phenomenon where all HR issues can go to die.

And when our dispute is listed in the IRC, the City admits it doesn’t have a “process” to consider such an application, the latest in a series of attempted fob offs which included refusing to respond to our request about which policies or procedures should be addressed in an application - with some HR flunky saying they couldn’t be specified because it could be all of them.

In the IRC on 28 January, Commissioner Sloan was able to squeeze from the City’s lawyer an undertaking that they would identify the policies and procedures that needed to be addressed by the end of the following week. And just like the City, we received their advice at 4:50pm on Friday afternoon! That really is taking literally the concept of the end of the week.

But the letter contained no surprises, they identified the Code of Conduct, Leave Guidelines, their Work Health and Safety Policy and their Overtime Guidelines. These were not just four basic obvious policies that had been considered by those managers who drafted the proposal in March 2019, they were damning evidence that the City’s response to us was nothing more than BS. Our first 2020 nomination, will it be seven years of nominations for the City?

Six nominations for the Golden Turd since 2014, every year in fact, so there must be some common factor, something bogging stuff down to an Impossible GoSlow, and frustrating everyone since 2013...

Wake up, we’ve found a flaw in Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018 No 63

We have an email from the BPB that says this:

It appears you have identified an unintended problem with the current provisions of the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018.

This was a response to concerns initially raised by an Ordinance 4 building surveyor in the west of the state. Not a member of ours (although he had been) but it was brought to our attention by the President of EDAP, Brendan Hayes, a member of our Committee of Management. And while we generally don’t like the idea of doing things for people who aren’t members of ours, it appeared they had a point. Still, the optimistic way of looking at someone who is not a member, is that they are a potential member.

The provisions under the heading Saving of existing certificates of accreditation don’t properly provide for the continuation and renewal of existing certificates of accreditation for certain accredited certifiers - specifically those certified based upon the old Ordinance 4 qualifications and their experience. This would have prevented the renewal of accreditation for many of the older and experienced building surveyors and would have decimated smaller councils on the west of the Great Dividing Range.

Well done to that non-member, because he picked up things that no other building surveyors or certifiers had picked up, nor us, nor the BPB, nor any of the policy people who had drafted the legislation, nor even it would seem, the Parliamentary Draughtsman (sic).

It will now be addressed in the new Building and Development Certifiers Regulation.

Significantly, it wasn’t raised to the AIBS, nor the AAC - the two organisations that most boast about looking after the interests of building surveyors - nor to anyone else. It was raised by us. Member or not, everyone knows we are the organisation looking after the interests of building surveyors.

“It will take two years to fix …”

NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler (above) admitted to the Sydney Morning Herald in an article published on 8 February that “a major fix to the state’s residential construction crisis is two years away, as fresh cracks emerged in Sydney’s troubled Mascot Towers apartment block”.

The Commissioner said, “he had been a ‘bit despondent’ after visiting some ‘pretty awful’ construction sites in recent weeks.

There are some really regrettable things out there that abhor me.”

And us too, Mr Building Commissioner. Nothing but a massive increase in your resources and funding and a commitment by the Government to make dodgy builders and developers responsible for their shoddy work and liable for damages will do. The owners and residents of Mascot Towers, Opal Tower and the other uninhabitable developments have been more than “a bit despondent” for a long time now.

But even the two years target identified by the Building Commissioner depends upon the Berejiklian government getting their building reform package through the NSW Upper House. It’s on pause while the Upper House presses the recommendations of the Shoebridge Committee as an alternative and more dynamic proposal. We prefer Shoebridge’s recommendations, too.

While we were all suffocating in the smoke or worse through January, the Minister for Better Regulation (sic), Kevin Anderson, announced on 21 January that he would “introduce a risk rating system for builders, certifiers and developers that would score them on the quality of their previous projects to weed out the dodgy operators”.

When it comes to certifiers, that has been the role of the Building Professionals Board, or whatever it’s called, or wherever it sits in government these days. Clearly the Minister has a lack of confidence in that organisation to have done what is now being required to be done with some kind of a rating system.

If you want to see a pretty good rating system, check out the penalties page on the BPB site. We’d be happy to help - the dodgy bastards with multiple penalties on the BPB site should never, ever work again in the industry, and should never, ever be able to run businesses employing others doing certification, or anything else to do with construction.

And while we’re at it, ratings, really? Let’s not forget that the Global Financial Crisis was all about dodgy investment strategies that had all been rated AAA by both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, respected and authoritative ratings businesses that really didn’t know what they were rating...

And speaking of people not paying attention...

How are the award negotiations going?

There have been three major issues occupying negotiations.

The first is having the IRC require Councils to report on how they are complying with their Award obligations to have a training plan in place to manage the training and assist progression of their staff. Probably poorly, but we will see. The IRC has directed that information be provided and it is flowing in. It’s required by the Award, so it’s a legally enforceable entitlement. It’s the L-A-W!

The second, is having the IRC require Councils to furnish information about the extent to which their workforce is casualised (not just by the number and extent of allegedly casual employees - more often than not really temporary appointments, or part-time permanent appointments without the benefits of permanency - but labour hire and inappropriate term contracts as well) to ensure that local government remains a place for permanent employment. Again, it’s the L-A-W.

And the third has been to focus on the commitment of the three unions, and LGNSW from their Conference late last year, to recognise the need for proper protection and leave for the victims of domestic violence and introduce Family and Domestic Violence Leave through a new clause 21M. And the good news is that on 24 February, accompanied by the furious agreement and consent of the parties, the IRC will vary the 2017 Award with immediate effect to provide a protective clause.

Just as well we can play a long game

2020 and its connotations of perfect vision remind us how we see things. For us, there are the new things, like our negotiations for a new 2020 Award, and a new dispute with Sydney City just to start the year, but there are the old and the continuing things as well - what’s happening with planning, the accreditation process of local government employees, and on and on.

The cartoon and the headline above were published in the last issue of the Health Surveyors’ News (one of our historic names) in May 1987. We were already fighting off the introduction of term contracts in the industry - allegedly to better manage performance as if continuing and permanent employees can’t be performance-managed, but really to make it easier for a Council to sack employees without the checks and balances provided by the Industrial Relations Act. The Council simply decides not to renew the contract...

It’s been a long history, not to be repeated here in this issue, but as we enter 2020 we remain committed to removing terms of employment for senior staff other than general managers, and even for GM’s to provide checks and balances, to ensure that a newly elected council can’t decide, as part of flexing their political or lack-of-intellectual muscle, to terminate their contract regardless of the GM’s performance. A waste of public money and poor treatment of a good employee.

We are immobilised in our section 106 with Narrabri Council/GM Stewart Todd as the Supreme Court considers Todd’s challenge that the Court doesn’t have jurisdiction to deal with contractual issues for senior staff under the Local Government Act. We can’t wait, there are only two alternatives here, Todd loses and senior staff win, or Todd wins and senior staff lose. Either way, the issue will be resolved.

And that’s it for us this year

The depa office will be closing on Friday 20 December and reopening on Monday 6 January 2020 and we’ll be back with full services sometime after that in January.

The Committee of Management and Margaret and I in the office wish you all a happy, restful, rewarding Xmas/New Year with friends and loved ones, and a joyous and energetic return in 2020 - just like we can guarantee you.

Bumper holiday reading - 2019 depa awards for the Worst HR in Local Government

This is the eleventh year that the prestigious and envied Golden Turd will be awarded.

How's HR been this year?

A bit of everything really:

We’ve seen it all, poor management and HR driving people from jobs; a lack of imagination and support for staff; micromanagement; quashing new ideas; failing to consult and being made to do it all again properly, particularly on organisational change, and consistent with clause 39 of the State Award; conducting investigations that shouldn’t have been conducted; some more wage theft, a couple of attempts at time theft at a couple of councils; bloody mindedness; senior staff sacked all over the place under their unfair contract, and possibly more blood to come.

One of our big issues is supporting flexibility at work for parents - something boasted about as a commitment by many councils but not always provided. Some rigid mindedness from bosses who really mean “the bloke goes to work, the sheila stays at home, just like I did, and my dad before me, and his dad before him”. Leaving aside the inherent misogyny and sexism, we’ve even seen a lack of imagination and support for mums, with one Council, demonstrating why 75% of workers who leave their jobs do so because of their bosses, and not the position itself.

Read more ...

Next month

depa’s highly respected and authoritative HR awards will be announced next month.

Public Accountability Committee’s first report makes 17 recommendations

The Legislative Council Public Accountability Committee Regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes handed down its first report on 13 November. There are 17 recommendations including addressing the issue of flammable cladding, strengthening the Building Commission as an independent statutory body “with broad powers and sufficient resourcing and funding to oversee and regulate the building and construction industry”, and more.

Here is a link.

Supreme Court reserves its decision on Narrabri’s jurisdictional argument

As you know, we filed a section 106 Unfair Contract application in the Supreme Court after the sacking of a senior staff member of ours by Narrabri GM, and President of Local Government Professionals, Stewart Todd, and that Narrabri’s first argument was that our application be quashed because the Supreme Court didn’t have the jurisdiction to hear it.

This would be an argument despite a history of regular section 106 applications from local government in the Industrial Relations Commission, and after the Court function was transferred to the Supreme Court, in the Supreme Court. And significantly regular applications, and regular settlements.

On 15 November, Associate Judge Harrison heard the Council’s argument and our response. A decision is reserved but not likely before the end of the year.

Plenty of time for bloodshed under the standard contract in the meantime.

Local Government Super appoints a new Chief Executive Officer

LGS has announced the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer, Phil Stockwell. Phil is a highly regarded person from financial services with whom I had the pleasure of sitting on the Regnan board a decade or more ago. Welcome Phil.

In the last issue we expressed our surprise at a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, ostensibly to announce the appointment of an independent Chair of LGS, that said “the $12 billion fund amended its constitution in June to make board changes following a probe into its governance by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)”

A probe? This was a surprise, given the careful language we needed to use trying to explain to members why, despite our historic opposition to the concept of “independent” directors, LGS had decided to do it. Apparently it was the Herald’s word, it wasn’t provided in the media release by LGS.

In June, unknown to us, LGS in an earlier media release announced they were going to reduce the size of the board and appoint an “independent” Chair and two “independent” directors “to more effectively meet APRA’s requirements around superannuation governance”. The media release acknowledges “APRA’s recent guidance and expectations”.

Well, that was more than I could tell you. And I couldn’t tell you that I had carefully drafted advice to members seeking the approval of the  █████████ ██████████ ██████████ █████████ ██████ before ██ ██████ ████ ███ ███████ ██ █████ ███ ███ ████ ████████████ ████ ██████ ███ █████ ██████ ███ █████ ██ ██ ████████ █████ ████ ███████ ████ █████ ██ ██ ████, ████ ██ ████ ███ ██████, ███████ ██ ███████ █████ █████ █ ███ ███████

Or anything else about the regulator, whether they have done anything, or haven’t done anything, ███████ ██ ███ ██████ ██████████ ██ ███████ ██ ██ ███ ████ ███, one dare not speak its name.

Local Government Super appoints a new Chief Executive Officer (2)

LGS has announced the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer, Phil Stockwell. Phil is a highly regarded person from financial services with whom I had the pleasure of sitting on the Regnan board a decade or more ago. Welcome Phil.

In the last issue we expressed our surprise at a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, ostensibly to announce the appointment of an independent Chair of LGS, that said “the $12 billion fund amended its constitution in June to make board changes following a probe into its governance by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)”

A probe? This was a surprise, given the careful language we needed to use trying to explain to members why, despite our historic opposition to the concept of “independent” directors, LGS had decided to do it. Apparently it was the Herald’s word, it wasn’t provided in the media release by LGS.

In June, unknown to us, LGS in an earlier media release announced they were going to reduce the size of the board and appoint an “independent” Chair and two “independent” directors “to more effectively meet APRA’s requirements around superannuation governance”. The media release acknowledges “APRA’s recent guidance and expectations”.

Well, that was more than I could tell you. And I couldn’t tell you that I had carefully drafted advice to members seeking the approval of the  █████████ ██████████ ██████████ █████████ ██████ before ██ ██████ ████ ███ ███████ ██ █████ ███ ███ ████ ████████████ ████ ██████ ███ █████ ██████ ███ █████ ██ ██ ████████ █████ ████ ███████ ████ █████ ██ ██ ████, ████ ██ ████ ███ ██████, ███████ ██ ███████ █████ █████ █ ███ ███████. 

Or anything else about the regulator, whether they have done anything, or haven’t done anything, ███████ ██ ███ ██████ ██████████ ██ ███████ ██ ██ ███ ████ ███, one dare not speak its name.

A word about wage theft

Recent months have seen an unprecedented level of exposure of dramatic underpayments by what had previously thought to be respectable institutions - Woolworth’s had admitted it underpaid about 5700 staff up to $300 million and this followed Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank, Bunnings and the empires of the famous chefs Neil Perry and George Colombaris.

The immediate response by those who did know better was that the award system was too complex for major corporations who, at the same time, were quite capable of handling millions of customers and turnover of billions of dollars. This included the head of the Business Council of Australia who described this theft as “inadvertent payroll mistakes” because the industrial relations system was “too complex”, with “122 awards, multiple agreements, multiple clauses”. This was supported by the head of the Australian Retailers Association ripping into the “lack of flexibility in awards when interpreted literally”.

This is all a hoax. A cover up. How can it be that there are never “inadvertent payroll mistakes” of this magnitude where employees are overpaid?

In local government we see less dramatic examples regularly. Councils asserting that there is some kind of loading on a rate of pay for forfeiting overtime, or working reasonable additional hours but then they can’t justify it by demonstrating how much it is, or how it sits properly on a salary system rate of pay. Only this week, in fact.

In a great article in The Conversation on 11 November, Professor of Workplace Law at RMIT University Anthony Forsyth defended the system as not as complex as employers claim and that businesses have made things more complex for themselves by trying to annualise salary arrangements to incorporate overtime, penalty rates and a variety of loadings.

And even though the practice is nowhere near as prevalent in local government, employees are entitled to be sceptical when the boss comes along offering a rate of pay said to include a market component, something in lieu of overtime, something for forfeiting RDOs etc.

Sound familiar, need some help? Give us a ring.

Premier to announce “the simplest and most effective planning system in Australia”

We woke to the news that Premier Gladys Berejiklian was announcing yet another review of the planning system in a speech sometime today to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia – whatever that is. We will try to restrain our cynicism that references to things like “including reducing assessment timeframes” means little more than unchaining the monsters and you lot, professional planners, protectors of the environment and building regulators, and the communities and their interests, can just bloodywell get out of the way.

It could be a lovely idea. It could be another boring review achieving nothing (always reminding us of David Shoebridge’s comment years ago that the government, on planning reform, was like a dog returning to its own vomit) or we could be very afraid.

More Articles ...

  1. Oh no, more “independent” LGS directors
  2. Finally, on the crisis in construction...
  3. Uh oh, time to change feet
  4. That’s not a monumental step, this is a monumental step
  5. Narrabri GM wants more bloodshed
  6. Senior Staff are being invited to respond to some questions about their job security
  7. We start negotiating a new Local Government State Award this month
  8. More good directors sacked - a real bloodbath at Snowy Valleys
  9. Evidence to the Legislative Council Public Accountability Committee into the regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes.
  10. A hapless of Building Ministers announcing bugger all in Sydney
  11. Look out if your Council wants to review your nine day fortnight
  12. A new Minister for Local Government - let’s see what we can do about those unfair standard contracts
  13. Prime Minister announces IR reform - oh no, here we go again
  14. NSW election means we’ll be bashing our heads against the wall with the Coalition Government
  15. Super dispute in the Commission as well
  16. And we’re in dispute with another Council too
  17. Shellharbour shows why you need to be a member of a union
  18. We file our first dispute of the year with Snowy Valleys Council
  19. NSW Government doesn’t understand why they lost the High Court case
  20. We still hate term contracts for senior staff
  21. Opal Tower fiasco raises opportunity to review everything
  22. Kaldas review released in December
  23. "Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer; You'll wish that summer could always be here"
  24. And that’s it for 2018, but here’s some good advice
  25. What about the High Court challenge?
  26. Richmond Valley is the winner
  27. How's HR been this year?
  28. How has HR gone this year?
  29. Speaking of issues of principle, the Government appreciates us, but doesn’t want to meet with us
  30. High Court to hear union challenge to electoral funding laws next week
  31. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays depa from the swift completion of depaNews …
  32. Slowly getting somewhere on “superable salary” dispute
  33. NSW unions challenge NSW Government in the High Court
  34. Oh no, now the NSW Government has asked whether we think "there is a greater risk for conflicts of interest to arise in private certification work and result in poor certification …"
  35. But what do the regulators do?
  36. Don’t think banks should be involved in Super?
  37. No wonder this lot didn’t want a Banking Royal Commission
  38. Councillors on interview panels
  39. “I need to see you at the gym”
  40. Nick Kaldas to audit corruption risks in New South Wales planning
  41. The BPB is not just using “intelligence”, it has “intelligence cells”
  42. Next time you have a disagreement about professional opinion …
  43. Farewell Ernie, thanks for everything
  44. You’ve moved house or Council? Don’t let it be a secret
  45. We make a submission to ICAC Operation Dasha
  46. Look out the BPB is coming after you
  47. Government sends IRC to Parramatta
  48. We may find ourselves in an unusual position
  49. Former Canterbury demonstrates to ICAC why councillors should be removed from development assessment
  50. Electoral Commission declares 2018 depa elections
  51. 2018 depa elections – lucky Lord Buckethead isn’t a member
  52. How to not lose your leaseback car
  53. Government decides to move the IRC out of the Sydney CBD
  54. Some people think they can get away with anything...
  55. Going down like dominoes at Tweed
  56. Okay, we don’t mind a challenge, but …
  57. Welcome back
  58. Well, that’s it for us
  59. Tweed Shire is the most hazardous workplace for depa members in NSW
  60. depaNews HR awards will be out Wednesday or Thursday...
  61. depa elections next year
  62. Code of Conduct
  63. LGNSW CEO Donna Rygate proudly launches their game changer
  64. Is that the time?
  65. And look out for this...
  66. Had a look at the Draft Code of Conduct yet?
  67. We still don’t know what this thing is
  68. LGS agrees it’s their responsibility, and they will fix it
  69. BPB nails idiots at Griffith City Council
  70. Andrew Spooner resigns as President
  71. What is this thing called, love*?
  72. And members respond brilliantly
  73. Like getting blood from a stone...
  74. depa's responsibility to look after our members’ social interests without discrimination
  75. Are you okay?
  76. Look out, the ******** and ********* might be back...
  77. “Like a dog returning to its vomit…”
  78. Get your own ideas!
  79. I’ve got a Deed of Release - lessons to be learned from Amber Harrison
  80. Enough is enough – it’s time to cut councillors out of development assessment
  81. Do yourself a favour
  82. Uh oh, …
  83. We accept LGNSW offer for a new State Award
  84. Courts nail clumsy and secretive handling of Council mergers
  85. We don’t like being gagged and we pull the pin on the EMRG
  86. Nine days to go …
  87. The Hills Shire embraces commitment to health and wellbeing in 2017 Enterprise Agreement
  88. A Tale of Two Cities
  89. LGS restores uranium nuclear screening
  90. Cripes, where was the compassion?
  91. Ex-Mayor of Hurstville exits with his tail between his legs
  92. OLG forced to state the bleeding obvious on employment protection
  93. LGNSW backflips on decades of cooperation
  94. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Gladys
  95. Next month ...
  96. What would Mike Baird have done?
  97. Uh oh ...
  98. The sharks are circling
  99. And that’s pretty much the end of the year for us...
  100. Who has the worst HR in local government in 2016?
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