• Private certifier gets nailed – depaNews November 2010
  • Wake up and don't worry - depaNews February 2011
  • HR professionals – depaNews January 2009
  • Upper Hunter gets coy – depaNews March 2011
  • BPB kills off B1 & B2 - depaNews July 2009
  • Councillors behaving badly Part One - depaNews December 2009
  • Councillors behaving badly Part Two - depaNews December 2009
  • Who is Peter Hurst? - depaNews August 2010
  • It's time to go, Peter Part One - depaNews September 2006
  • It's time to go Peter Part Two - depaNews December 2006
  • BPB survey on accreditation – depaNews November 2008
  • Improbable things start to come true – depaNews June 2010
  • Sex, lies and development – depaNews February 2008
  • Pizza man feeds non-members – depaNews April 2011
  • Bankstown wins HR Award – depaNews December 2010
  • Love him or loathe him - depaNews October 2007
  • Good Bad & Ugly issue – depaNews November 2010
  • Upper Hunter lets the dogs out - depaNews February 2011
  • IRC puts brakes on belligerent seven – depaNews June 2009
  • It's Tweedledum and not Tweedledumber - depaNews March 2007
  • 28 April International Day of Mourning - depaNews April 2009
  • IRC orders Hurst 'apology' published - depaNews December 2010
  • Debate on IR policy – depaNews August 2007
  • Developer agrees to apologise – depaNews November 2010
  • OH&S Day of Mourning – depaNews April 2009

The Development and Environmental Professionals' Association (depa)

Welcome to the depa website. We are an industrial organisation representing professional employees working in local government in New South Wales in a variety of jobs in the fields of environmental health, public health, building and development control and planning.

We take a broad approach to our responsibilities to members and give advice and assistance on professional issues as well as industrial and workplace issues. We understand what members do at work and that allows us to take a holistic approach.  Read more about us...

This site will keep you up-to-date with union news and the diverse range of workplace advocacy issues we deal with daily. We have made it easy for members to contact us with online forms and quickly Join depa onlne nowaccess information from our extensive FAQs.

IRC puts brakes on belligerent seven – depaNews June 2009

Hardly the Magnificent Seven – June 2009

Commission puts brakes on the Belligerent Seven

Who would have thought that out of 152 councils, the first to leap into an argument with their managers and Senior Staff about the cost of their superannuation would be this lot:

Great Lakes Council

Lake Macquarie City Council

Liverpool

The Council of the Municipality of Kiama

The Hills Shire (nee Baulkham Hills)

Warringah

Wyong

But, in the Industrial Relations Commission this morning, Justice Staff recommended that those seven councils not proceed to collect increased superannuation from affected employees (see May depaNews) until proceedings in the Commission had resolved the issue. There may be an eighth, with some doubt about how Pittwater is responding to our letters. We'll see.

These proceedings arose from a dispute depa filed with 83 councils over whether or not the Council would pay the increased "compulsory employer contributions" from 1 July for employees who are members of the LGSS Defined Benefits Scheme and who are employed on contracts with a TRP. When the dispute was filed on 20 May, there were six councils refusing to pay and 77 councils which had not responded to letters from depa dated 1 April and 5 May.

Between the date of filing and the proceedings this morning, Waverley was removed from the list of six refusing to pay (they're still wondering what to do) and Great Lakes and Lake Macquarie were added. And of the 77 councils which had failed to respond, we were now down to 49. That is the least, some progress.

depa was supported this morning in the Commission by the LGEA (Martin O'Connell had also attended our meetings with the LGSA on 12 March and 5 May trying to properly manage this issue) and the USU. We appreciate their support.

But first, what's this all about?

This is as a dispute arising from an increase in the compulsory employer contribution in the Defined Benefits Scheme of the LGSS. The collapse in financial markets has meant that all defined benefit schemes are now in deficit and employers are being urged by superannuation regulators to address the deficiency as quickly as possible.

Yes, that's right, this is a dispute generally with the highest paid employees in the industry. Who said unions were only relevant lower in the organisation? And what sort of employer wants to pick a fight with their directors and managers? Leaving aside whether they can legally make employees pay, what sense is there from a human resources perspective, in irritating those most critical to an organisation's delivery of services?

There are two critical and simple issues here:

1 If an employee is not on a contract, then there is no argument about who will pay. It will be the employer.

2 Employees on contracts are employed on contracts solely because of a decision by the Council or, in the case of Senior Staff under the Local Government Act, the Act itself.

To resolve the issue, councils should simply treat these employees like everyone else.

And 49 councils will do that and have agreed to pay

Here are the 49 councils which have already agreed to do the right thing:

Albury

Kyogle Council

Bega Valley

Leeton

Blacktown City Council

Liverpool Plains Shire Council

Blayney Shire Council

Maitland

Bourke Shire Council

Marrickville Council

Broken Hill

Mid-Western

Camden Council

Nambucca Shire Council

Campbelltown

Narrandera Shire Council

Cessnock

North Sydney Council

Coolamon

Penrith

Council of the City of Sydney

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council

Cowra Shire Council

Rockdale

Deniliquin

Shellharbour

Dungog Shire Council

Sutherland Shire Council

Fairfield City Council

Tamworth Regional Council

Gloucester Shire Council

Tumut Shire Council

Gosford

Tweed

Goulburn Mulwaree Council

Upper Lachlan Shire Council

Greater Hume

Walcha Council

Gundagai Shire Council

Wellington

Harden Shire Council

Willoughby City Council

Hay

Wingecarribee Shire Council

Holroyd

 

Hornsby

 

Kempsey Shire Council

 

Kogarah Municipal Council

 

Ku-ring-gai Council

 

 

In an exhibit handed up in the Commission this morning, these 49 councils were identified as agreeing to pay the increased compulsory employer contribution. At the very least, this is a persuasive argument for those seven councils refusing to pay to review their anti-employee attitude and the Commission accepted depa’s submission that it was sufficient of a developing majority opinion to put a hold on those councils which would defy it.

So, the Commission recommended that they not proceed pending further hearings to settle the dispute. This will take some pressure off the employees affected and also focus the attention of those councils on whether they can, or cannot, try to extract the additional increase from the salary cash component of their employees’ packages.

13 councils are currently taking advice

These councils are:

Ashfield

Cooma-Monaro Shire Council

Auburn Council

Forbes Shire Council

Ballina Shire Council

Lismore City Council

Bankstown City Council

Murray Shire Council

Bathurst

Singleton Shire Council

Blue Mountains

Woollahra Municipal Council

City of Lithgow Council

 

 

34 councils say they are not affected (but are they really?)

The following councils claim that they are not affected. They say they do not have employees who are members of the Defined Benefit Scheme who are employed on contracts or other arrangements which include a TRP.

Berrigan Shire Council

Narrabri Shire Council

Bland Shire Council

Oberon

Bombala Council

Palerang Council

Boorowa Council

Pittwater Council

Canterbury

Port Stephens Council

Central Darling Shire Council

Randwick City Council

City of Canada Bay Council

Snowy River Shire Council

Cobar Shire Council

Temora Shire Council

Cootamundra Shire Council

Tenterfield Shire Council

Dubbo

Wakool

Eurobodalla

Warrumbungle Shire Council

Glen Innes Severn Council

Waverley

Griffith City Council

Weddin Shire Council

Hawkesbury

Wentworth Shire Council

Hurstville City Council

Wollondilly

Lachlan Shire Council

Yass

Lane Cove

 

Lockhart Shire Council

 
   

 

We are prepared to accept that these councils are acting in good faith when they advise us that they are not affected, but just to be sure, if you work at any of these councils and are on a contract or contractual arrangement with a TRP, can you please let us know?

Please note also here that depa has filed a dispute asking for a response from all councils about "employees" generally, not just depa members. So, if you are not a member but are affected, let us know. People who are eligible to be members but are not members yet are all potential members.

What happens next?

The Commission made three recommendations. They will shortly be available officially but, in summary and from the best of our notes, they were:

1 That the (forty nine) councils yet to respond to depa’s letters of 1 April and 5 May, do so by 5pm on Friday 5 June.

2 That the (seven) councils which propose not to pay the increased compulsory employer contribution reply by 5pm on Friday 5 June and indicate which of the four categories in depa’s letter of 1 April the affected employees fall into.

3 The Commission “urges” that any decision by the seven councils to deduct from employees salaries be not implemented until further assistance is provided by the Commission.

Proceedings were adjourned for a report back before Justice Staff at 11am on Wednesday 10 June.

What happens next?

The LGSA and the unions are planning to meet with the Belligerent Seven (and possibly Pittwater) next week. At that meeting we can examine why the councils believe they can extract the increase in the compulsory employer contribution from an employee’s salary component. We can also deal with any of the 49 councils which are yet to respond, or the 13 councils which are taking advice, if they decide to try to gouge these increases from employees.

In the meantime, we need to know if the councils which claim to not be affected are really not affected and we need advice from members (and people who aren't members) at the Belligerent Seven so we can check the four categories of employees.

Robbo's Pearls...

LGS restores uranium nuclear screening

26 April marks 31 years since the largest nuclear energy disaster in history at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine. The disaster contaminated a huge area of the Ukraine, now known as the Chernobyl exclusion zone covering around 2600 km². The public are excluded from the area, both flora and fauna are contaminated forever and there has been significant animal, fish and human birth abnormalities and deformities. And the area is contaminated forever.

The disaster highlighted the significant risk associated with nuclear energy - as if it needed to be highlighted.

LGS has always taken the concept of responsible and sustainable investment more seriously than the rest of Australia’s superannuation funds - since 2000 when the fund decided not to own tobacco and to develop screening arrangements to reduce investment in nuclear/uranium, businesses with poor forestry practices (like Gunns), gambling etc. etc.

These screening practices have won LGS many accolades from responsible investment organisations, including being ranked number one in the world in the prestigious and authoritative Asset Owners Disclosure Project, twice.

But, despite my reluctance to personalise these issues, pretty much as soon as I had resigned as a director on the LGS Board after 16 years of primary responsibility for the introduction of these responsible investment commitments, a couple of pro-nuclear zealots on the Board thought it made sense to dismantle the Board’s historic screening against uranium and nuclear industries because of the stupid and misconceived understanding that nuclear energy did not produce carbon emissions. Stupid bastards.

We never let go of this, placing a clock on our homepage so that the world could see how many days it had been since that stupid decision was made back in September 2014. It would be a timely reminder of the decision and a constant nagging of the stupid bastards to recognise that the advice they had at the time was right - that there would be no investment advantage and that there would only be reputational damage.

LGS has now announced that the uranium/nuclear screening will be restored. Here is their media release. You will note that it doesn’t say that they should have taken advice from their own investment people at the time, they shouldn’t have behaved like a group of single-issue Montgomery Burns, that seeing nuclear technology as a solution for a low carbon future was one-dimensional thinking at its worst - like thinking that a mass murderer might be okay if they were good-looking and had nice manners. A little bit simplistic and wrong-headed. Stupid bastards.

But, good for them for acknowledging their folly and repairing the damage.

A wasted 965 days, more than two and a half years where people scratched their heads and wondered what kind of loonies had taken over the Board.

Our representative on the Board after the decision had been made, Sam Byrne, pursued this but the decision to restore the screening was a unanimous vote, so clearly everyone had come around to recognise that it was a mistake to remove it. Nice work. There may be a few stupid bastards still involved, but at least they’ve done this.

And we’ve decided to announce this on the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Just to remind us that nuclear technology is not a viable energy source for a low carbon future when there are so many other renewable energy sources without the disadvantages or risks.

As the Chernobyl disaster happened at 1:24am in the Ukraine (seven hours behind Sydney time) on 26 April, the clock was removed from our homepage at that time.

And in a bit of a scoop and brilliant news for the historic and now reinstated commitment to responsible and sustainable investment, LGS was today announced as the top rated International fund (from a field of 600 institutional investors) in the prestigious and authoritative Asset Owners Disclosure Project.

This means that LGS is, without any doubt, the leading responsible and sustainable investment fund in Australia and it's a fabulous result for the commitment of the recently resigned CEO Peter Lambert who has ensured over more than a decade that the resolve of the Board to do precisely that, has been delivered.


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