Governemtn to appeal Court finding that DCS breached the Enterprise Agreement

17 May 2019

Another hearing in the PSA’s case in relation to consultation about the implementation of the State Government’s decision to privatise the Adelaide Remand Centre (ARC) was held at the South Australian Employment Tribunal yesterday, 16 May 2019.

The Government has formally lodged an appeal against the Court’s decision that the Department for Correctional Services (DCS) failed to consult as required by the South Australian Modern Public Sector Enterprise Agreement: Salaried 2017 about a number of issues relating to the implementation of the privatisation of the ARC.

The Government also sought a stay of the orders issued on 8 May 2019 by SAET Deputy President, Judge Hannon, which include the requirement to consult properly and to provide relevant information to facilitate genuine consultation, until such time as an appeal can be heard.

The Court’s orders require consultation to begin immediately. The PSA wrote to DCS Chief Executive David Brown (here) requesting the consultation begin through a Special Corrections Consultative Committee meeting. The Chief Executive has not responded to the PSA’s letter.

Yesterday’s hearing was originally for the purpose of hearing arguments about what documentation would be made available, with the Government continuing their argument that they should not have to produce documents. Some of the Government’s arguments emanating from the evidence they have put forward include:

  • that they need to protect their relationship with Serco

  • the documents are commercial in confidence

  • releasing the documents is not in the public interest

  • safety of staff may be an issue if PSA members see the documents

  • they are developing documents with Serco which need to be signed off by Serco and the Chief Executive before ‘discussion and implementation’ with staff (in direct contradiction to how consultation is described in the Enterprise Agreement, that is, ‘Employers and Agencies consult in good faith, not simply advise what will be done’ and ‘the genuine opportunity for them to contribute effectively to any decision making process‘)

As the case develops, more unbelievable claims about how the Government went about privatising are being revealed. According to the evidence provided to the tribunal, the General Manager of the ARC (presumably the person best placed to provide advice on its operations) had no input into the transition plan, and is still yet to see the document, yet he is working with Serco to develop checklists for the transition. According to his testimony, the transition plan was part of the procurement process and he is ‘not privy to it because it is so confidential’.

The PSA expects a decision on the Government’s application for a stay of the Court’s orders will be issued next week.