Redeployment Transition Centre (RTC) Outcome of Dispute in The South Australian Employment Tribunal

14 October 2019

The Public Service Association (PSA) lodged a dispute notification with the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) on Friday 4 October 2019 requesting an urgent listing. A conciliation conference was held on 9 October 2019. In attendance was PSA Organiser and PSA Industrial Officer.

The dispute arose following attempts by the PSA to resolve numerous concerns, to no avail. On 19 August 2019, the PSA wrote to the Chief Executive of Department for Education (DE) (here), detailing significant breaches of the SA Modern Public Sector Enterprise Agreement: Salaried 2017 (SAMPSEAS) including Clause 19 – Work Health and Safety, Clause 34 Consultation and Appendix 1: Redeployment, Retraining and Redundancy. The PSA requested an urgent meeting.

The PSA then met with Department for Education (DE) Representatives on 28 August and 6 September 2019 to discuss the identified breaches. The subsequently requested the Department respond formally in writing.

After some prompting from the PSA, DE responded on 27 September 2019 (here).This letter did not address PSA concerns and in many cases simply advised the PSA of processes. The letter further advised that the Department acknowledges its obligations, rather than provide evidence that it is meeting or intends to meet its obligations.

In the time it took the Agency to respond, new issues had emerged including moving the RTC staff to the basement of 31 Flinders Street without consultation or having undertaken a Work Health and Safety Assessment. The PSA notified DE of a dispute on 3 October 2019 and advised that the status quo should remain, and that the RTC staff should remain at Wakefield House and not move to the basement of 31 Flinders Street until the matters in dispute were resolved (here).

DE responded late in the day on Friday 4 October 2019 acknowledging the PSA was not satisfied with the information provided on 27 September 2019. Once again DE only assured the PSA that the Department is aware of its obligations, and they did not agree to the status quo, insisting that employees move to the basement (here).

With PSA support, RTC members attended their workplace, in the basement, and instead sitting in the foyer of 31 Flinders Street refusing to enter the unsafe work environment.

Unfortunately the outcomes of SAET conference were not supportive of the PSA position and recommended (here) PSA members attend work in the basement, and that PSA continue to meet to resolve outstanding matters.

The PSA met with RTC members on 10 October 2019 and the following resolution was made by PSA members:

“This meeting of PSA members expresses it’s outrage that the DE:

  •  has failed to consult effectively with employees about the broad range of issues facing staff assigned to the RTC; and
  •  the proposal to relocate workers to an unsafe work location prior to a thorough workplace safety assessment and resolution of associated problems;

Noting the recommendations form the SAET on 9 October 2019, we reluctantly agree to attend work in the basement pending further discussions around issues of concern including:

  •  supervisory arrangements
  •  allocation of meaningful work appropriate to classification
  •  lack of appropriate training and support, and
  •  the continued use of agency staff when there are unplaced ongoing employees.

The members will review the Department’s workplace safety assessment when provided and will raise associated issues at the meeting proposed for Monday 14 October 2019.

If inadequate progress is made to resolve our concerns by Friday 18 October 2019, members will hold another meeting to consider other options.”

The concerns the PSA has raised regarding the RTC could have ongoing consequences for all PSA members, particularly those who are ongoing substantive employees but are currently either placed contract positions, or unattached.

The PSA congratulates the RTC staff for their commitment and strength in staying united during this difficult period. The PSA encourages all members to support their colleagues in the RTC by providing the following information to the PSA (the PSA will maintain confidentiality for members);

  •  Numbers of Temp Agency Staff or contract staff that are currently undertaking roles in your worksite and if possible the classification level of the roles they are undertaking.
  •  Any workload issues within your worksite
  •  Any vacant positions in your worksite and classification level of the vacancies if possible
  •  Any office space on your floor that is not utilised

The PSA is committed to protecting the conditions of employment of our members, but we need all members to be united and collective. Please support your colleagues in the RTC in any way you can, including encouraging other staff who are not PSA members to join the PSA. Together we can fight stronger.