Public sector newsletter

Posted on
June 9, 2020
Public Sector

Your fortnightly union update

You'd probably be aware the premier announced earlier in the week that Tasmania would move to easing the pandemic restrictions in line with the government’s road map to recovery.

This means gatherings can again occur, people can go away to shacks and national parks, pubs and restaurants will be reopened in a limited fashion and recreational fishers will be back out on the water.

There is some comfort in knowing the pandemic is seemingly under control, the increased movement and activity across the state will mean more work for health and community workers.

We know everyone’s done a marvelous job responding to the pandemic but we also know the stress services were under long before COVID-19, and we haven’t forgotten that and will be discussing with members any capacity issues they face as the restrictions are eased and operations return to a level of normality.

If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic it’s that a well-resourced and agile public service is pivotal to dealing with any crisis, especially a pandemic and we’ll be doing everything in our power to ensure our services are properly resourced and designed to meet the ever-increasing demand.

We encourage you to still be aware of physical distancing,room capacity, hand hygiene, staying home if you’re unwell, getting tested and downloading the CovidSafe app.

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


Fixed term contract review

As part of the public sector wage negotiations there was an agreement between the parties for a review of fixed term employment across the state service.

You'd know that we’ve had ongoing issues with that blight on our community – insecure employment – and they’ve been telling us for years that the spectre of having their employment ended is morally taxing and unproductive.

We know workers in fixed term positions have trouble in their personal lives because of insecure employment and we know that in a lot of cases, fixed term engagements are used for convenience or some other manufactured reason rather than the actual duties being of a genuinely fixed nature.

Next week we’ll write to both THS and Communities Tasmania to initiate the fixed term contract review, and our first step will be to ask for the data relating to fixed term workers as we want to know where you’re working, what positions you’re in and how long you’ve been engaged on a fixed term basis.

We’re hopeful of coming to an agreement with the government that sees wholesale changes to this unnecessary, costly and damaging practice.

If you’re a fixed term worker, we’d be really keen to hear from you so please contact HACSUassist so we can add you to the register of fixed term workers and keep you fully informed as the review unfolds.


Allied Health Assistants – we want to hear from you 

Recently we’ve been involved in preliminary discussions about a governance framework with THS in the south of the state in relation to Allied Health Assistants but that got us thinking about an issue known for sometime - the recognition of the work and skills of AHAs.

We know there are issues with your scope of practice, access to vocational education and professional development and where you are compared to where you should be in the award.

It’s widely acknowledged that your role’s expanding, and it’s time to discuss expanding your options, so we’d like to set up a video conference meeting to discuss a plan for a way forward.

The meeting will be open to members and non-members so please tell your co-workers – anyone who wants to be part of this process can register interest by  clicking here.


Nurses and Midwives Agreement PDA

Following the registration of the Nurses and Midwives agreement and variation of the award, we’ve had a number of enquiries about the amount of PD allowance that’s payable.

The allowance should’ve been paid in pay period 25 of 2020 and was based on averaging the hours worked between pay period 24 of 2019 and pay period 23 of 2020.

The agreement specifies that workers who average over 30.4 hours per fortnight in the year are eligible for $750 and workers who average up to 30.4 hours per fortnight are paid $375.

Casual workers are paid based on their average ordinary hours over the previous 12 months and the same qualification set out above applies.

If you have any issues with this, please contact HACSUassist or discuss with your organiser.


Motor vehicle cleaning 

We’ve had some enquiries recently about the safety around cleaning of pool cars and the infection control measures that apply in light of the pandemic.

We’ve asked who is ultimately responsible for the cleaning of pool cars, is it the individual worker or will it be undertaken by somebody else?

We’ve asked the employers to be mindful of this as they work through the formulation of their COVID-safe plans.

If you have pool cars or other government cars that you use for work, particularly ones used to transport clients or patients, the cleaning and maintaining of records for the cars should be part of your COVID-safe plan – if not, or if you’re concerned about what’s happening with the cars where you work, please contact us.


COVID-19 and workplace safety regulations 

There have been amendments to workplace health and safety regulations to deal with minimising the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and all workplaces must prepare a safety plan by 15 June.

Most workplaces that kept operating should already have a lot of the control measures in place but there are minimum standards depending on the size of your workplace and the nature of the work performed there.

All workplaces must do the following:  

•  Do regular cleaning to a minimum standard and keep records of the cleaning

•  Maintain screening and restrictions on entry of workers and visitors

•  Observe minimum physical distancing standards and limit the number of people in enclosed spaces

•  Instruct, train and supervise all workers in the risks and the control measures in place to control these risks

•  Maintain records to demonstrate compliance with the minimum standards

Some workplaces will be exempt from a number of the requirements because of the nature of the work done, but employers need to apply for the exemption and discuss it with staff.

As with all things workplace health and safety, your employer must consult with you about any risk control measure, and COVID-19 regulations are no different.

The bottom line is there must be extra safeguards to protect you from the virus no matter what workplace you’re in, and measures must be in place to make sure you’re coping with the extra stress of this situation. 

If you want further information or are concerned that a plan has been imposed without input from the workers, please contact HACSUassist or your organiser.


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 8pm Monday to Friday regardless of how small you feel your issue might be. Please take care.

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

Public Sector