An early favourite for our 2014 HR Award

Like finding a Japanese soldier on some obscure island in the Pacific, who still thinks he’s fighting the Second World War, we have found a council that looks like it didn’t properly grade its senior health and building surveyors (as they used to be known in the Health Surveyors State Award) way back in 1992.

Everywhere else (until we discovered Taree and Hastings a couple of years ago and fixed them) has had seniors as band 3 level 3 since 1992. So how does it happen that Shoalhaven have them at 3/2?

The systemic and chronic rorting of job evaluation at Shoalhaven was exposed in their current restructure. This was a process where, not only did they breach their obligations under the State Award to advise employees affected and the union to which they belong, but it was only when they tried to jam existing “seniors” into even bigger jobs, with even more staff, and still at 3/2 and no more money that the whole questionable system started to unwind.

We filed an industrial dispute which has been before the Commission on five occasions. On the first occasion the USU and the LGEA wanted to intervene because they had concerns about the process as well and this was contested by the Council - asserting that this was really only about the evaluation of one position when the dispute notification made it abundantly clear it was about much, much more. They lost that argument. We welcome the other unions. That’s 1 nil.

In the dispute proceedings Council agreed to re-evaluate the team leader jobs using 00Soft (the old Wyatt) and we then discovered they were using version 19, the 1993 version that was made obsolete when it was superseded by version 20 in 1995. Version 20 provides more reliable evaluation consistent with the skill descriptors in the Award – particularly in the professional area. As part of the dispute, despite their original defence of the superseded obsolete system, the Council has agreed to transition to version 20 from 1 January 2015. That’s 2 nil.

Council was adamant they had properly evaluated these positions (as a general rule, councils never admit to rorting or fiddling the system) but the re-evaluation found that the positions really were 3/3. Council then had to agree that the positions would be 3/3 because it was their idea that we’d sit down and go through the evaluation. That’s 3 nil.

The upgrading led to a redundancy for one of our long-standing members John Britton (well done John and enjoy your retirement) and may well provide another. I think we can count that as 4 nil.

Then two members were offered the Team Leader positions but under the condition that access to a leaseback car would be “discretionary” and not a continuation of the condition of employment cars they had enjoyed in their current positions. This was subsequently claimed to have been a mistake, but the realisation this was a mistake was very slow in coming and while they were wondering whether it was a whether it wasn’t, they kept asserting locally that they are entitled to do this. That’s 5 nil.

And we discovered other employees who had a car as a condition of employment, when offered promotional positions, have been asked to sign away their condition of employment car for a car that can be removed with six months’ notice.

Group Director Tim Fletcher and a movable feast of HR functionaries are up to their eyeballs in this fiasco. GM Russ Pigg delegates things down the organisation so, ironically at least, he can devote some time to going along and present at a convention of the Local Government Poseurs Association about “Transformational Change – The Shoalhaven Story”. Oh Russ, you are such a wag! You have to admire self-deprecating humour. That’s a story that should be R rated.

The Council has a pay policy which prevents employees, concerned about the accuracy of the evaluation of their position, asking for the position to be re-evaluated unless there have been “significant changes” to the position. This sort of provision sets the rorted level in concrete. But on the last occasion this was argued out in the Commission, the Council agreed to re-evaluate positions of those members who wanted their positions re- valuated given the new understanding about the appropriate level for Team Leader positions. That’s 6 nil.

They also agreed to provide a list of those employees who may have been asked to sign a letter of offer including a discretionary car - something that they had refused to do before. So, that’s 7 nil.

And on every single issue, the Council dawdles, obfuscates and then precious and sensitive people in management get distressed about the tone of emails the union sends to its members. Poor little loves.

In particular, they didn’t like us saying this:

• rorting the job evaluation system to keep positions out of 3/3

• we’ve sprung them and remedied the issue

• chronic rorting of job evaluation, trying to forcibly redeploy people into positions without giving the opportunity of taking a redundancy

• for trying to cheat (two members’ names deleted) out of their rights to a car and being sprung

• and robbing who knows how many people of their rights to a condition of employment car in taking another promotional position.

Funny, they never objected on any of the occasions when precisely that sort of language was used in the Commission. What do you think? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

Shoalhaven has made itself an unbackable favourite. The award can sit alongside the GM’s Certificate of Appreciation from LGPA for his “Transformational Change- The Shoalhaven Story” presentation.

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