COMMENT: Bega Valley Council restructure to run the IRC gauntlet

Staff restructuring is almost as common now as catching a cold, and no job seems truly secure.

It is yet unknown whether any of the nine councillors who voted in favour of the current restructuring foresaw the fallout of the process.

Jobs restructuring within the Bega Valley Shire Council is the subject of a conference with the Industrial Relations Commission.

Jobs restructuring within the Bega Valley Shire Council is the subject of a conference with the Industrial Relations Commission.

With the main theme of the election campaign being that greater community consultation with the public was needed over issues, it seems strange the community sector is the one being cut.

While the public voted on greater consultation, during their first budget it was revealed councillors discussed reducing the communications, community development and community culture and information coordination areas. 

The June 28 motion sought to save a quarter of a million dollars by restructuring staff in order to “achieve improved service outcomes and reduced recurrent expenditure”.

The proposed savings, totaling up to $1.4million, was one of many to be given to the transport infrastructure department for road resealing, and while nobody could deny it’s necessary work that needs to be done, it appears the method is being tested.

Council was slapped with a “please explain” by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission during the first conference, and was forced to outline its proposed changes to commissioner Peter Newall.

The United Services Union has since said the response was not fully accepted by its members, and council will again front the commission next week.

It appears new Grade 18 and Grade 12 positions are essentially replacing Grade 19, Grade 14 and Grade 13 positions.

Council has said it will respect an employee’s right under the Award to request a review of grading if they believe the responsibilities of the role have changed, and at management level it is understood the previous role of manager of community culture and information will be split into what appears to be two roles.

Council’s general manager told the community to remain “patient” through the process as acknowledged “juggling priorities within tight budget constraints” is a “significant” challenge.

After the initial IRC conference council said they were providing “support to affected employees through the change process”, yet in a region with not many jobs on offer and opportunities few and far between, the true effect on families is not known.