NSW Local Government in the times of COVID-19

The industry continues to grapple with the countless challenges generated by the COVID-19 crisis. The LGEA has been working with industry parties to ensure local government employees are safe and able to continue their important work, whilst also working with the government to get assistance for the industry so that it can continue to employ staff and support local communities. We now have all but 13 councils in the state signed up to coverage of the Local Government (Splinter) COVID-19 Award, or an individual council agreement mirroring those employment protections.

The LGEA has now met twice with the Minister for Local Government (via phone) as part of an industry briefing, with the Minister keen to continue to meet with the industry unions and take on our feedback regarding current issues and challenges. These discussions have proven fruitful, leading to the announcements of both the childcare funding package, and the industry stimulus package, so they are proving to be valuable opportunities for both members, and the industry as a whole.

State Award
Negotiations for the next State Award are nearing finalisation. We hope to be in the position to receive an offer in early June.

These negotiations have been the most challenging that any of the industry parties have had involvement with, as we have had to work with the pressures of socially-distanced negotiations, “cash-strapped councils” facing the negative financial impacts of COVID-19, political pressures and differing (and at times conflicting) priorities for each of the industry parties and the members we represent.

In a further complication, yesterday the NSW government announced a 12 month wages freeze for NSW public sector employees. Whilst this policy does not apply to local government employees, it does make the argument for our 1 July wages increase even more difficult, in an environment where councils are already claiming financial distress.

Whilst the negotiations for the Award have not gone to plan, we do believe that we will achieve an Award that contains meaningful improvements for the working lives of NSW local government employees.

We will keep you updated, and once we have received an offer we will schedule a member webinar discussing the contents of the offer before we conduct our member vote.

New Council Allocations
In April, LGEA Director Gordon Brock was appointed as the Interim CEO of Professionals Australia. A wonderful move for Professionals Australia nationally, Gordon will do an excellent job of overseeing our organisation during these uncertain and challenging times.

This, of course, means that Gordon has had to step away from LGEA work for the interim period, which in turn necessitates a reorganisation of the council allocations for LGEA staff. The new allocations can be found here.

Whilst Gordon is the Interim CEO of Professionals Australia, Alycia Vasilangos will be the Acting Director of the LGEA. Justine McCarthy will be the Acting Director of the NSW branch of Professionals Australia, and will therefore also be taking a step back from NSW local government work. Any current matters Justine has involvement with will continue to be handled by Justine, and she will still be contactable in the usual ways.