In what can only be described as a confounding series of events, City of Ballarat directors and managers have been meeting with employees of specific work units, and departments across council giving staff directions to take indefinite leave as of Monday 30th March 2020.
These directions were issued to staff in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in giving these instructions to staff, these managers claim there is no work for council workers to do, that they are not essential services, but it is not stand down.
In a statement received by ASU the CEO states. “Yesterday, City of Ballarat staff were asked to start working from home. This was to keep them safe, to keep their colleagues safe, to keep their loved ones safe, to keep the community safe “
ASU has also received concerning reports that staff are being made casual, being put on availability and on call rosters, without allowances, and apparently while on leave.
All these actions are illegal.
There is very important work to be done, and as the third pillar of government in this country, Local Councils are going to be one of those lead agencies required to continue to provide essential services long after other areas of the community are potentially in enforced lock down.
There is no clause in the EA that allows the employer to direct employees to take leave on mass.
There is no evidence that work has dried up, and that there is nothing for workers to do.
Employees can not be converted from ongoing to casual, without agreement, in writing.
Yes there is a pandemic, and yes it requires modifications and changes to how councils can continue to deliver services, but standing down employees illegally is not a considered response, it is an overreaction to what should be the last resort.
State and federal government have been clear in stating non-essential services and those at risk by being places of congregation, should be closed. This has seen Libraries, Leisure centres, Customer Service Centres, Neighbourhood houses, Aged Care centre based services, Art Gallery’s and Theatres closed.
ASU is advancing the interests of members by asking councils to continue to provide safe work to our members, and if the time comes where higher levels of government decide locks downs are necessary, then a coordinated approach by local government is much better than seeing one council going it alone to the detriment of their employees, and their own greedy benefit of reducing leave liability, and saving rate payers money by not delivering on their social contract to provide services.
ASU in the media
WIN news | https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2852008434853603
Courier news | https://www.thecourier.com.au/story/6692766/it-will-take-10-years-for-ballarat-to-recover-financially-council-ceo/
ASU has asked for an urgent meeting with Council CEO and will update members with any new information.
For further information please contact:
ASU Organiser Will Wyatt | firstname.lastname@example.org