Local Government State Award 2020 - are we there yet?

The State Award is invariably made late in June for three years and operating from 1 July. We are all used to the idea of pay increases from the first pay period after 1 July and, as we get perilously close to needing to get a final document together, there are significant “in principle” agreed changes already, and only really two issues to finalise.

The USU in September last year convened a roundtable in Parliament House, opened by the Minister for Local Government, and involving everyone with an interest in bullying and mental health in the industry - LGNSW, the unions, workers compensation insurers, Local Government Superannuation, the Office of Local Government etc. Everyone got on board philosophically with the need to dramatically address what was acknowledged to be a widespread problem in the industry.

Unlike the Fair Work Act, the NSW Industrial Relations Act 1996 does not have specific provisions about bullying and the capacity for employees to seek orders preventing bullying. And it seems remiss, in this climate of a greater recognition across the industry, that the State Award doesn’t specifically address bullying either.

We are working on appropriate wording to provide protections for employees in the industry from this pernicious and difficult to manage phenomenon. Bullying can damage employees’ lives just as much as physical accidents and injuries.

And the second issue, is money. Just as there are GMs around the place looking at forfeiting their 2020 pay increases, and thinking that others should do so as well, that influence is being felt by LGNSW when we look at what sort of pay increase there should be from 1 July.

The complication of agreeing to take a fall on salary increases (which are really only economic adjustments catching up for cost increases over the preceding twelve months) in the interests of continuing people in jobs is that money not spent on pay increases isn’t then automatically spent keeping people in work.

And we know of many councils where any savings are just as likely to find their way into improve catering for councillors, and other less worthy spending.

More news, next month.

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