Panel goes gaga trying to separate the hopeless and the nasty judging the 2011 HR awards

Too much for the International Judge

It would be easy if human resources managers understood that their role wasn't just bludgeoning the workforce. Imagine if they thought it made sense to support and encourage the development of their employees and not just hammering them into templates, cutting costs and cutting opportunities.

It would also be easy if we could separate out those who are more incompetent than they are malicious. Are they bad and nasty people or just stupid?

And hopeless HR doesn't just depend upon HR managers. Many HR managers (oh, all right then) some HR managers really do try to do the right thing but don't have much of an option if the Director Corporate Services or the General Manager is a nasty piece of work, or a dope, or a sadist intent on wreaking havoc and misery and driving employees somewhere else.

So, no wonder our acclaimed International Judging Panel (and particularly the international member) found it very, very hard to separate some serious contenders this year.

Nominated this year were ....

Blayney

For the general antagonism evident in their hopelessly-handled dispute with us this year about failing to protect employees against crazy attacks by councillors, councillors so crazy that even the general manager couldn't stand it and resigned in the middle of our dispute, membership bans on, members on strike, intervention by the Division of Local Government to straighten out the crazies but now on the path to recovery with a new GM filling the health and building vacancies .

Fairfield

Generally doing okay but thinking it made financial sense in a budget of $140 million a year to try to take $10 a week discount from the leaseback fee from three employees who live almost next door to the Council and have enjoyed that discount for over two decades. Wow, saving $1500 a year and it only costing the goodwill of the three employees concerned and their historic commitment. Tighter than a fish’s sphincter, my dad would say.  Because they are water-tight.

Gosford

Historically a pernicious, unimaginative, stonewalling and unpleasant employer which over the years has been so difficult we even had to resort to the IRC managing a process that resulted in an agreement between us that they would respond to our correspondence!

Gosford remains the Council where our activities have been the most costly - in 2000 we made them spend $1.1 million on new air-conditioning for the Administration building.  Nice one.

And this year the conga line of incompetents all lining up to run a hopeless, subprofessional and inadequate investigation, failing to ask the right questions of the right people and generally disadvantaging a member of ours. And in a document for our convenience identifying all the participants in the conga line who both individually and collectively deserved a good kicking for their hopelessness. This included:

  • the Performance Management Auditor (and how about that for a misnomer!)
  • the HR Manager
  • the Manager Organisational Development
  • the Director Corporate Services
  • the Director, City Services, and
  • the Acting General Manager (who was also the Director, City Services so he was responsible for making bad decisions in both capacities. A real first in this competition.)

What a list.

And a ban imposed by our members on participating in any investigation conducted by the Performance Management Auditor (sic) remains firmly in place. We kidd you not. (This is an in joke inserted for members at Gosford.)

One of the things the Council agreed to do after the humiliating recommendations of IRC President Justice Boland was to rewrite their investigations policy so that employees could have more confidence in any investigation being done being done properly.  We have set the clock on them to see if they live up to their usual glacier-like pace and you can see the clock ticking on our home page.

Lismore

For almost invariably getting it wrong at every opportunity, for never, ever understanding how to interpret the Award and for showing scant regard for the market and not doing things they said they would do - but let down by the departure of the old general manager and a chance of recovery.

Liverpool

For having an apparent corporate policy of disdain for building surveyors and preferential treatment of planners going back about 15 years, running the staff numbers down, failing to pay market rates and then wondering why they get no decent candidates, filling vacant positions with external contractors, not managing the problems that arise with staff shortages or the antagonism and unrest amongst the workforce and for generally providing about the most toxic workplace one Panel member had ever seen.

Upper Hunter

Intransigent, intractable, bloody-minded, getting employees on the cheap and testing their urine whenever they feel like it to make sure they're not having much fun when they go home either.

Taree

Otherwise known as Greater Taree, the HR decisions of the regime of the current general manager Gerard José reminds us that “Greater” only means larger, and not more magnificent. Where do we start?

The carryover from last year's clumsy investigation; the ambushing of our members in the investigation process; members on strike; overriding the rules of the salary system when that suits them; trying to remove conditions of employment on the use of a car and in doing so acknowledging they would rather someone be less productive than continue the entitlement; restructuring and damaging the morale and fabric of an efficient, reliable and trustworthy workforce with confidence in their manager; advertising jobs with a salary range that does attract candidates but then refusing to pay anything other than entry-level so they don't get anyone; refusing to accept two unanimous recommendations of selection panels; running the assessment staff numbers down because they don't get anyone and then pressing for the same performance as if there were no vacant positions; persecuting our delegate with a bogus request for an explanation of something alleged to be a breach of the Code which clearly wasn't; being prepared to arbitrate issues affecting three members and getting a lawyer to do it and, if the rumour is right, saying there was a blank cheque to oppose depa etc etc.

And finally to delete a Council policy providing a gratuity to long-standing employees who resigned or retire in the face of the wishes of the Consultative Committee and employees affected - something we will deal with in 2012 although we were hoping one of the other unions with more members affected might like to walk to the crease for this one.

But there can only be one winner.

Come on down, Gerard

It was close, with contenders snapping at their heels all the way, but the International Judging Panel couldn't go past Taree.

Congratulations, Greater Taree.  Your contribution to the morale, self-respect and welfare of your employees is now properly acknowledged.

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