NT unions win more certainty for NTPS workers and their families: media release
9 October 2012, 3:11pm
The Territory's public sector workers are set to get more information about workplace changes and possible job losses after the CLP Government was told to consult more about a planned NTPS shake-up.
The Community and Public Sector Union's NT Regional Director Kay Densley said the outcome is not only good for NTPS workers, but also anyone who uses public services in the NT.
"It's a step in the right direction. The CLP Government have been making decisions and policy on the run, and NTPS workers, the people who rely on government services and the community as a whole, deserve a lot better.
"Fair Work agreed consultation with workers and unions has been patchy or non-existent and asked them to improve the situation in the coming weeks," she said.
The hearing was a closed session and was adjourned to be opened again in future if required. The FWA Commissioner acknowledged there was clearly a pressing need to consult and that he was sure there was a phenomenal level of anxiety among employees.
The CPSU, along with United Voice, the AMWU, the ANF and APESMA initiated the hearing with FWA after the CLP imposed a recruitment freeze on all NTPS positions while changing the number and function of agencies, a move that created uncertainty for workers across the NTPS and their families.
"The CLP Government doesn't know what staffing levels are needed for their new agencies yet, so putting people out of work, possibly forcing whole families to relocate before they know who they're going to need, is hasty and irresponsible.
"Key jobs in the Department of Children and Families and other agencies have already been lost because agencies are subject to arbitrary staffing restrictions and can't keep these workers even though they're needed.
"We were asking FWA to give NTPS employees the chance to explain why the services they provide are so crucial, so we are very glad that FWA has indicated they want that to happen.
"We are hopeful that the Office of Commissioner for Public Employment - on behalf of the CLP Government - will go forward with a spirit of co-operation.
"FWA left the door open for another hearing if that consultation doesn't happen. Meantime, we'll be talking to our members about what this decision means to them and the important work they do. We'll also be continuing to stand up for Territory jobs and services," Ms Densley said.
Before the Northern Territory election in August 2012 the CLP targeted the Territory's public servants with posters and letters saying, "Your Job is Safe". Since gaining office the CLP Government has:
• Imposed a recruitment freeze on all NTPS positions
• Have not renewed temporary higher duties and contracts
• Increased the number of agencies and amended their responsibilities
• Terminated some employees' employment by not renewing contracts
• Asked agency heads to sort "exempt" from "non-exempt" staff.
The measures have already resulted in job losses and created uncertainty for workers across the NTPS, many of whom are facing relocating themselves and/or their families outside the Territory if they lose their job.
"We can't even estimate what sort of job losses could happen because of the cuts Terry Mills is planning. So far, the CLP Government has been either unwilling or unable to tell us how many people they actually employ in new agencies," Ms Densley said.
The CPSU surveyed NTPS members and workers and presented findings to the FWA hearing. Of the 676 respondents (as of COB, 8 October 2012 - survey ongoing):
• 75.5% said they have not been told that their job is exempt from the staffing freeze
• 52.2% weren't confident they'd be listened to if consultation took place
• A number of respondents expressed concern about their personal situation. These include inability to pay the mortgage, forced redundancies at the end of the current workplace agreement, the possibility of having to leave the Territory and relationship stress. Several expressed concern about their staff.
"The CPSU wants the CLP Government explain exactly what jobs and services it plans to cut.
"The outcome at FWA is a step toward keeping the CLP Government accountable for jobs and services in the Territory," Ms Densley said.
To arrange further comment call CPSU Communications Officer Jess Nelson on 0459 168 514