Alpine Shire wage freeze to save jobs

Pre­ferred op­tion in­stead of more job losses

Alpine Observer - - News - By BRAD WORRALL

ALPINE councillors want an ex­tra $600,000 taken out of the wage bill.

But the coun­cil, who has un­der­gone sig­nif­i­cant re­struc­tur­ing in re­cent years and cut staff by about a third, will look to get agree­ment on a wage freeze rather than re­vert to re­dun­dancy pack­ages.

Councillors made the call in hand­ing down their fi­nal bud­get.

The lat­est de­ci­sion comes as the Alpine Coun­cil this week be­gins ne­go­ti­a­tions on a three-year en­ter­prise bar­gain agree­ment for staff wages.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Dave Barry said pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions with staff sug­gested that a wage freeze was pos­si­ble.

“We are in a po­si­tion that no other coun­cil in the state can lay claim to – we can guar­an­tee jobs well into the future be­cause of the tough de­ci­sions we’ve made in re­cent years,” he said.

“Coun­cil had ini­tially asked that we cut $ 1.5 mil­lion from wage and salary costs and we were able to sur­pass that and in turn de­liver the low­est rate rise in Vic­to­ria this year and the third low­est last year.

“And be­cause the work­force was re­duced by more than 1/3 means we are uniquely po­si­tioned to have this con­ver­sa­tion.

“Our pref­er­ence is a staff wage freeze and let nat­u­ral at­tri­tion take its course rather than a vol­un­tary re­dun­dancy pro­gram.”

Mr Barry said some coun­cil staff were paid up to 36 per cent above the award.

“We are in con­ver­sa­tions with staff on how we can achieve the next round of sav­ings with­out im­ple­ment­ing re­dun­dan­cies and I’m con­fi­dent that as an or­gan­i­sa­tion we can get to that point with­out shed­ding jobs,” he said.

“I be­lieve we have an in­cred­i­ble and com­mit­ted staff and any dis­cus­sion around a wage freeze must in­clude them – we have learned it’s im­por­tant to not just con­sult but to lis­ten.

“Pre­vi­ous staff re­views have fo­cused on indoor staff but the cur­rent process takes in the or­gan­i­sa­tion in its en­tirety.

“There will be a num­ber of op­tions on the ta­ble when we sit down to dis­cuss the EBA but that process needs to reach a mu­tual agree­ment that is in the best in­ter­ests of staff and the com­mu­nity.”

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