Public Transport and Road Maintenance Privatisation

22 May 2020

The Public Service Association (PSA) continues to oppose privatisation of Public Services including Trams, Trains and Road Maintenance as these will lead to a reduction of jobs in the South Australian Community, a greater safety risk, increased costs for the community and a significant loss of expertise, knowledge and experience in the important areas of transport.

It makes no economic sense to increase unemployment and reduce the skilled workforce at any time, but particularly during a pandemic. Members have consistently raised their concerns for the safety of the public, quality of the work and value for money in these privatisation proposals. The savings to the state are minimal compared to the risk, and in the end we know from interstate and international experience that when things go horribly wrong, the public sector picks up the pieces - and the community pays.

Private companies are focused on their profits. Public sector agencies and workers are focused on service delivery, safety and the wellbeing of the public.

The PSA is working together with all other unions impacted by these proposals to continue to not only campaign against privatisation ,but also ensure members’ jobs and futures are protected.

Road Maintenance Update
Following the PSA’s call for more information (as there had been very little since the end of 2019), the Department provided the proposed structure for the retained function and more information about the impact on staff. We also asked that a Consultative Committee with unions and our Worksite Representatives be established; that there be more time to respond; and group meetings be organised so people could ask questions and hear from each other. All of this was agreed by the Department.

Over the last week, PSA Team Leader, Organising, has attended most of the meetings to listen to members’ concerns and provide information.

Some of the issues and questions raised so far are:

  •  How many DPTI salaried staff do the private companies intend to employ? How many salaried jobs will be lost?
  •  There is no guaranteed staffing level required by the companies in the contracts.
  •  The retained structure does not have enough people and they are not at the appropriate levels for the complexity and size of the roles.
  •  The process of filling the jobs in the retained function needs more thought to reduce job losses and keep expertise and local knowledge.
  •  ASO staff should also be considered for some of the roles as they have experience and/or qualifications.
  •  There are significant concerns about risk assessment, risk management and safety. Has a risk analysis been done? If so, what risks have been identified and how have these risks been mitigated?
  •  The right to maintain current working conditions under the transfer of business is not secure if the work is sub-contracted. There is a complexity between the transfer of business arrangements and the time of the enterprise agreement negotiations.
  •  Job security and financial incentives to move to a private company need to be better. Currently Tram drivers have been offered a 3 year job guarantee and a $15,000 incentive payment.
  •  Concerns that there is a lack of knowledge and understanding by those people negotiating the contracts with the companies of specialised areas such electrical and bridge maintenance.
  •  Locations of worksites are unknown and there may be an increase in travel time or a relocation required for staff.
  •  Staff need to have all the information about all the options before being asked to make informed decisions about their future.
  •  Superannuation with Super SA to be secured prior to offers being made. (Super SA has no limit on salary sacrificing but nearly all other funds have a cap of $25,000)

Next Steps
The next Consultative Committee meeting is on Tuesday 26 May 2020 and the initial consultation period ends on Friday 29 May 2020. Some of the issues above will be raised at the Committee but we will also be providing a written response to the Department. We will be collating a confidential response to the Department on behalf of members.

Members can have a say by emailing issues, questions, comments and suggestions to PSA by COB Wednesday 27 May 2020. The Consultative Committee will be meeting fortnightly so we can continue to raise issues.

We will regularly report any developments and visit affected worksites. Please feel free to email any questions or issues that you have.