Tamworth brings in the big guns

In March we reported on the attempts by the GM at Tamworth Regional Council to remove the nine day fortnight - a system that had operated, by agreement and without complaint or examination for more than a decade. Neither the article in depaNews, nor the correspondence we had exchanged with the Council, nor observations we had made in the IRC about the process were appreciated by the GM.

So the Council, which has retrenched staff because of budgetary difficulties and saw the removal of the nine day fortnight as something they needed to do as they struggled with their fitness for the future, decided to hire a Sydney Senior Council to travel to Newcastle for a hearing barely longer than an hour, to complain and seek directions against depa for being unkind. Or not bargaining in good faith, as they put it.

Directions or orders were sought in proceedings for depa to retract everything we have said, to apologise unreservedly, to not allow the Secretary of the union to appear in the proceedings any longer and to generally behave in a more polite and subservient manner, like the staff are expected to behave at Tamworth. Just as well there are no penal provisions in the New South Wales Industrial Relations Act.

All these directions and orders were rejected by the Commission, notwithstanding the gravitas with which they were put by Senior Council in front of a jam-packed court including the GM, the Deputy GM and Legal Counsel, the HR Manager and two representatives from LGNSW. No shortage of heavyweights there. A lot of people who, we are sure, could have been far more productive doing something else.

But while Deputy President Harrison rejected the extreme requests, he did agree to set the matter down for further conference in Tamworth in June - something we and the two supporting unions had asked for on the first occasion the dispute had been considered.

They say that good negotiation is getting people to do what you want and having them think it was their idea all along. We acknowledge it was a great idea of Tamworth’s to suggest that we next meet in Tamworth.

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