On 19 November, the Secretary of the Department, Michael Coutts-Trotter emailed ADHC staff to convey the Baird Government’s unilateral decisions regarding the terms of your possible transfer to the ‘not for profit’ or ‘for profit’ sectors. Secretary Coutts-Trotter stated that they “continue to consult with unions representing staff to raise and work through any member concerns” whilst in the same breath announced far reaching decisions that were made without any real discussions with the ADHC unions.
The following day the Association wrote to the Secretary seeking an urgent meeting with him to discuss this lack of any real consultation and put the very real concerns that members are expressing about their futures. Secretary Coutts-Trotter rejected our approach, suggesting instead a meeting with his Departmental officers. Put simply, the Minister and the Secretary are keen to continue the façade of consultation, whilst rejecting any real personal engagement on substantial matters that impact on your career.
On Thursday 17 December the General Secretary and other Association officers met senior Departmental management to both express our outrage at the behaviour of the Government / Department and to seek answers to the very valid questions that members are asking about their future. We continue to call for real choice for you and your clients.
What do we know after meeting with senior management? See below for a summary of what do we know after the Secretary’s message and our meeting with senior management.
The Government and the Department will not change their unprincipled behaviour without a united response from all ADHC employees. Members have made it clear they think the Government is putting its privatisation agenda ahead of the clients’ interests. The Department’s offer is clearly inadequate and members want proper and real consultation and negotiation on any employment arrangements for transferring staff.
It is important to continue to attend Branch meetings and to discuss it with other union members in your workplace. Early in the new year, the Association will conduct a survey of members to determine our collective response and to explore options available to members in light of the transfer proposals.
Questions? Please contact your Branch Official or Wayne Baxter on 8595 1234
What does the Government’s agenda mean to you:
· ADHC is intent on using its powers under the draconian National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Act 2013 to force its agenda onto you and your clients. Previous circulars to members have outlined the dangers of this Act. Unions NSW sought advice on the legality of the provisions – whilst grossly unfair, they are technically legal.
· You can be transferred (whether you agree or otherwise) to a ‘not for profit’ or ‘for profit’ employer, thereby becoming an employee of that new employer. For example, the Enabling Act gives the Department the right to forcibly transfer a nurse from, say Tomaree, to a facility run by a ‘for profit’ operator (e.g. Serco in Broken Hill). The Department has agreed (verbally) that the transfer must be to a nursing position in the case of our members (e.g. RNs should be transferred to RN positions with the new employer). If you decline the transfer, you will not be paid any redundancy pay.
· When you are transferred to the new employer, the Department have only agreed to maintain your existing Award-based wages and conditions for a period of up to two years from the date of transfer. They will be maintained for two years unless the majority of employees at the new employer vote for a new agreement, in which case this new agreement will override these protections. There is also a possibility that the Fair Work Act may provide some protections to existing Award conditions including wages for up to five years. The length of time that your existing Award-based wages and conditions are protected can be varied by the Department – it is not protected in the Enabling Act.
· Your employment with the new employer cannot be terminated in your first two years of employment except for serious misconduct or disciplinary outcomes. In other words, they can’t make you redundant in your first two years of employment. After two years, the new employer can make you redundant and only has to pay you out under the National Employment Standards (maximum 12 weeks) as existing redundancy provisions are not protected by the Enabling Act as they are not contained in the existing Award.
· These 2 year protections are labelled “the employment guarantee period” in the Enabling Act, yet they are anything but guaranteed. The Act states that each transfer agreement between ADHC and new providers may contain an “employment guarantee period”. It is discretionary – members have to rely on the message from Coutts-Trotter and verbal assurances by Departmental officers.
· A transfer payment of up to 8 weeks will be received by permanent employees (not provided for in the Enabling Act).
· There will be continued access to the SSS and SASS superannuation schemes with a requirement for the new employer to continue contributing to these schemes.
· You will have the right to transfer annual, sick and long service leave from ADHC to the new employer.
· The Department is exploring possible pathways in the public sector for employees who are not required by the new providers.
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