What is this thing called, love*?

LGNSW has, over the past twelve months, picked up a concept called a “Capability Framework” from the NSW Public sector, fiddled with it with its creator, and developed it to inflict on local government - as if the industry needs some other incomprehensible obstacle laid down in its path.

But despite decades of cooperation between LGNSW and the local government unions, we weren’t consulted - even though it was responded to coolly by the public sector unions when it was implemented some years ago in the State.

And despite two briefings by LGNSW zealots and the creator, it’s still hard to know. It also appears to overlap the skill descriptors - although LGNSW has been at pains to explain that it can’t and won’t be used for job evaluation, or progression in the salary system but it may (somehow) be used for recruitment and performance management.

It was revealing that at the time of the second briefing, while LGNSW recognised that the unions would be critical to an agreed approached about how this thing would be inflicted on the industry, we were told that it was at the printers.  Not so much getting invited late to the dance, but not getting an invitation to the dance in the first place, but a demand to clean up after.

So, we filed a dispute with LGNSW to try to slow down the HR and Management enthusiasts in the industry who may pick it up when it’s still not clear what it is and what it isn’t. Or what it’s for and what it isn’t.  The notification includes a desperate email stream to and from LGNSW trying to have those questions answered.

For those of you who may be fans of the brilliant satire, Utopia, it’s like the Defence Green Paper episode from the recently concluded series where no-one could understand the Paper. And when those in the Infrastructure Authority tried to understand it by bringing together those from the defence industry who had contributed, they could only explain it could only do so in jargon from the Green Paper itself that was, in turn, incomprehensible.

Our requests to stop the bloody thing roll out on an unsuspecting industry in proceedings before Chief Commissioner Kite on 10 October met with deaf ears but we were able to reach agreement that LGNSW would place a warning on their website that no one should proceed to use the Framework, even though it was already on their website, until further notice and until guidelines and precautions had been agreed to between LGNSW and the unions.

This is what the website now provides:

LGNSW advises councils that the LGNSW Capability Framework does not displace or override the Local Government (State) Award 2017 (“the Award”), and is not linked to the Award. The Award is the enforceable industrial instrument setting the minimum terms and conditions for the majority of local government employees in NSW.  The framework does not alter councils’ obligations to:

  • Evaluate positions in their structure in accordance with the Award's skill descriptors; and
  • Ensure progression through councils’ salary systems based on the acquisition and use of skills, or employee performance, provided that progression beyond the entry level based on the acquisition and use of skills is also available.

LGNSW recommends that councils not implement the framework as it relates to employees covered by the Award until the implementation tools and resources have been developed and published.

For further advice on implementing the framework in compliance with the Award's provisions please contact the LGNSW Industrial Unit on 02 9242 4142.

Clearly it would have been smarter for LGNSW to bring the unions into the loop much, much earlier.

(*Yes, this is a poor misuse of the title of Cole Porter’s classic song, “What is This Thing Called Love?” Sorry about that.)

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