Public sector newsletter

Posted on
June 18, 2020
Public Sector

Your 3-weekly union update

As the pandemic response is eased and things start returning to some level of normality we’re still working hard to ensure your rights and safety are at the forefront of everything we do, and we’ll continue to lobby the state and federal governments hard to ensure workers are at the forefront of plans for the recovery.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be planning our return to site visits and meeting with members where they work, so keep your eye out for further details and site visit updates. We are union, we stick together, we look after each other and it’s how we’ll get through this.

Public sector update

Most of you would be aware the Premier has announced that Tasmania will move to stage 3 restrictions earlier than previously announced, and he also said restrictions would be eased this week in relation to gatherings and visiting other people’s homes.

If things remain largely stable, 26 June will see the move to stage 3, meaning gatherings will be governed by density rather than head count, organised sports will resume at some levels and, importantly, those members who’ve been working from home will begin to transition back to the workplace – but it’s important to note that high risk and vulnerable workers will still be encouraged and supported to stay home and protect their health.

The increased movement and activity across the state will mean more work for health and community workers. We know everyone’s done a marvellous job responding to the virus but we also know the stress that services were under long before COVID-19 - 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 designed and properly resourced to meet the ever-increasing demand.

We encourage all members to remain aware of physical distancing, room capacity, hand hygiene, staying home if unwell, getting tested and downloading the CovidSafe app. Be strong, take care and stay safe - we’re proud to represent you.

Buy Tasmanian for sure but let’s build Tasmania too

You may be aware of a campaign led by the government to support Tasmanian business as part of looking out for one another during the recovery process, and we commend and support this campaign, but think it can be better. We know the government wants to bring forward some infrastructure projects around the state that’ll help the relevant industries in the short term and deliver longer term, ongoing benefits to the broader community.

We’re keen to talk to them about what infrastructure or capital works could be undertaken in health and communities that are desperately needed and also make for sensible, measured policy in delivering the most bang for the community’s buck, and we’ve started some initial work identifying possible projects around the state and will share more of this with members in coming weeks.

We know that not everything can be upgraded or improved at once, and this is a real opportunity for Tasmania to address some longstanding issues, so we’re keen to hear from you if you work in a service where you believe some infrastructure or capital works could really help service delivery. Please get in touch through HACSUassist to let us know.

Out and about

Over the next few weeks we’ll be making a graduated return to workplaces around the state and, while we are mindful of the precautions that must be taken, we can’t wait to get out and do what’s at the centre of everything we do - listen to members and talk about how we can all work to build and exercise power in our workplaces.

We also know a range of issues that already existed have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and some new issues created, and they need to be addressed so we look forward to working with members to remedy some of these– so if you want a HACSU organiser to come and visit your workplace, or organise a meeting for you and your workmates, please get in touch through HACSUassist.

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, and members know we’ve had ongoing issues with what we call a blight on our community - insecure employment.

Members have been telling us for years that the spectre of having their employment ended is both morally taxing and unproductive, and we know those in fixed term positions have trouble in their personal lives because of job insecurity and we know fixed term engagements are often used for convenience or some other manufactured reason rather than because the duties are of a genuinely fixed nature.

We’ve written to THS and Communities Tasmania to initiate the review and have asked for the data relating to fixed term workers because 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 hope to reach an agreement with the government that sees wholesale changes to this unnecessary, costly and damaging practice, so if you’re a fixed term worker we’re keen to hear from you. Please contact HACSUassist so we can add you to the register of fixed term workers and keep you fully informed as the review unfolds.

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.

Nurses and Midwives university research project

We’ve been contacted by a University of Tasmania research team conducting an extensive research project into the psychological health and wellbeing of nurses and midwives in Australia, and the first step is to survey nurses and midwives about their experiences.

We encourage all of our nurse and midwife members to take part in this valuable research into an often talked about but poorly understood issue by taking the survey here

If you’d like more info please contact HACSUassist.

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