Public sector newsletter

Posted on
October 5, 2020
in
Public Sector

Your sector updater.

Here’s your update on the issues across Tasmanian public sector agencies relating to management of the COVID-19 response and other issues regarding broader public sector and union campaigns. We know there’s alot going on, for many and varied reasons, in addition to the continued workload pressure members are under. We’ll continue to highlight issues and get as many wins as possible for workers and the community.

 

Special Pandemic Leave & having a COVID-19 test

We continue to have concerns raised with us about inconsistent application of the process for being paid when you’re away from work because of something related to COVID-19. Ultimately, workers have been directed to be absent from the workplace until they return a negative test.

Our position has been clear and consistent since the declaration of the pandemic. If you’re directed to stay away from the workplace as a precautionary measure, then you’re eligible for special pandemic leave. This includes if you present for work as normal and are precluded due to screening. It’d be a serious risk and a clear retrograde step if workers have an incentive to not be entirely honest during screening.

The other factors relating to Special Pandemic Leave are:

•  If directed to self-isolate or stay away from the workplace, you’ll be paid your regular salary without using your leave entitlements.

•  If required to provide emergency support to children or a member of your household, you will be required to use your own personal leave entitlements. If you don’t have a sufficient balance or run out of personal leave, the agency will accept an application for special pandemic leave.

•  If unwell, including if you contract COVID-19, you will be required to use your own personal leave entitlements. If you don’t have a sufficient balance or run out of personal leave, the agency will accept an application for special pandemic leave. Remember that you can make a claim for workers compensation if you contract any illness in the course of your duties, including COVID-19.

•  If you’re a casual or sessional worker asked to self-isolate or stay away from the workplace, you will be paid for any shift you’d already accepted and the agency will accept an application for special pandemic leave.

•  Payment for special pandemic leave will be your normal rate of pay and for casuals it will be based on regular hours for casuals who work regular and systematic hours, or based on an average of the last two pay periods or based on the two pay periods that occurred prior to the declaration of a pandemic.

HACSU will continue to fight for arrangements to protect workers, especially health and community workers, who should not be disadvantaged by the pandemic.

 

State Service Review

You may have heard the government is inexplicably continuing with a State Service review, because it’s looking to make changes - we all know that’s why governments conduct reviews. We’re seriously concerned the government’s steamrolling ahead in a climate where no one really knows how the pandemic will change and shape our world into the future.

What we do know is the public sector will be vital in supporting those in our state who’ll be left behind, without jobs and in need of care. We feel the government is taking an enormous risk right now pressing ahead with the review when they can’t even really say what it is they seek to review.

HACSU and other public sector unions wrote to the Premier outlining our concerns and requesting the review be delayed so that a genuine process of consultation occurs. If the government would just be honest and tell you what they want to change we might not be so concerned, but at this stage nothing‘s off the table and that’s dangerous!

If you have any questions or information about the review, please contact us at HACSUassist.

 

Mental Health Reform information sessions

The government is embarking on an important piece of work in the reform of mental health services in Tasmania, and there have been a number of reports produced with a range of recommendations that the government will consider and, hopefully, implement.

The reform team is holding information sessions in Hobart to update people on the program actions being developed and answer any questions. HACSU organisers will be going and we encourage members to attend.

Thursday 15th October 2020

Session One: 2-3.30pm

Session Two: 4-5.30pm

Tasmanian Hockey Centre Function Room, 19 Bell Street, New Town

 

For the Workers campaign

The broader union movement is about to embark on a campaign to ensure workers are at the forefront of any plan the government comes up with as part of the economic recovery from the pandemic.

Working people are the ones who’ve carried Australia through this time crisis, and many of you have literally been on the frontline. Many other workers have moved mountains to rapidly transition to working remotely so they can keep services available and businesses open. Thousands of our comrades have had hours, pay and jobs cut and some have had to use their super just to survive. It was union members who campaigned and won JobKeeper, JobSeeker and pandemic leave, and your efforts have saved jobs, livelihoods and lives.

Australian workers carried the load during this pandemic, and we should be the centre of the recovery plan, and governments need to protect and support the wages and rights at work of working people - this is critical for consumer spending.

Governments also need to adopt a National Economic Reconstruction Plan using their spending power to save and create secure jobs and leave a legacy for future generations, and we have a list of ideas that’ll work and we’ll be in your workplace soon to talk more about it.

For more information visithttps://fortheworkers.australianunions.org.au/home or contact us at HACSUassist.

 

Consultation and Change

Most members know the new governance structures of DOH and THS commenced in March this year - throw in an unprecedented pandemic and most of those leaders sure had to hit the ground running. A lot of quick and dynamic changes have had to be made at a rapid pace and most have been handled in a reasonable fashion but, no matter the circumstances, change must mean consultation.

Consultation doesn’t mean the boss simply tells you what they’re changing, they must engage with you in a meaningful way and reasonably address any feedback and concerns you have. In fact, there’s a formal process that must be undertaken whether people want to engage with their workers or not.

We have concerns that some managers seem to think that consultation is optional, it’s not. If consultation is done correctly, very few issues are insurmountable and there’s little reason to have any sort of dispute. The exact opposite occurs when consultation is non-existent or is a sham. If you think changes are happening in your work area and you feel the process is lacking, contact us at HACSUassist.

 

Who’s your HSR?

Do you know who your HSR is? Do you know what an HSR is?

A Health & Safety Representative is a worker who represents the health and safety interests of a work group, and there can be as many HSRs and deputy HSRs as needed, after consultation, negotiation and agreement between workers and the employer.

An elected HSR is entitled to perform the following tasks for their work area:

•  undertake workplace inspections

•  review the circumstances of workplace incidents

•  accompany a WHS inspector during an inspection

•  represent the work group in health and safety matters

•  attend an interview about health and safety matters with a worker from the work group, with the consent of the worker

•  request that a health and safety committee be established

•  participate in a health and safety committee

•  monitor compliance measures

•  investigate work health and safety complaints from work group members

•  inquire into any risk to the health and safety of workers in the work group

•  issue provisional improvement notices and direct a worker to cease unsafe work (where the HSR has completed the approved training).

Under the Workplace Health & Safety Act, there must be a health and safety committee for your workplace and your workgroup - your area -should be represented on that committee.

If you have any questions about HSRs, Workplace safety or are interested in finding out more, please contact us at HACSUassist.

 

INFORM – HACSU’s official journal

Click here for the latest edition of INFORM, full of photos, stories and information.

 

HACSU supports you

Thanks for the amazing work you’re doing in this unprecedented and rapidly changing environment.

Feel free to contact HACSUassist between 8am and 6pm Monday to Thursday and 8am – 5pm on Fridays, about anything in this newsletter or any other issue you have, regardless of how small you feel your issue might be.

Be strong, take care and stay safe - we’re proud to represent you.

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email assist@hacsu.org.au or complete our online contact form

Public Sector