WDRC po­ten­tial payrise costly for ratepay­ers

Re­port in­di­cates union de­mands could prove costly for ratepay­ers

Dalby Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Matthew New­ton

UNION de­mands for pay and su­per in­creases at the Western Downs Re­gional Coun­cil could cost ratepay­ers an ex­tra $8.3 mil­lion in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year, ris­ing to $13.3m in 2019, ac­cord­ing to a coun­cil of­fi­cer’s re­port.

The re­port said the unions were after a 7.5% pay rise per an­num over three years, back­dated to Fe­bru­ary 14, 2016, an in­crease in em­ployer su­per­an­nu­a­tion con­tri­bu­tions from 12% to 15%, and an ex­tra week’s an­nual leave – in ad­di­tion to other lesser de­mands.

“To bet­ter un­der­stand the im­pact of these in­creased costs, it is worth­while con­sid­er­ing the im­pact on gen­eral rates,” the re­port stated.

“The in­crease per ratepayer for all ratepay­ers to cover these ad­di­tional costs would be $439 in 2016–17, ris­ing to $700 in 2018–19.”

The min­i­mum res­i­den­tial rate in Dalby and Chin­chilla is cur­rently $833. The Miles min­i­mum res­i­den­tial rate is $747 and the Jandowae and Tara min­i­mum res­i­den­tial rate is $630.

The re­port went on to note that since amal­ga­ma­tion, av­er­age coun­cil staff salaries had in­creased by about 65% – “pre­dom­i­nantly due to align­ment of clas­si­fi­ca­tion lev­els and al­lowances at amal­ga­ma­tion and to a lesser ex­tent due to the con­se­quences of the re­sources boom”.

Com­par­ing wage lev­els with nearby Toowoomba Re­gional Coun­cil, the re­port found WDRC salaries and wages were higher than at the larger coun­cil.

“In­creases of the kind de­manded by the unions will im­pact coun­cil’s abil­ity to de­liver cost-ef­fec­tive ser­vices and it would be se­verely eroded when com­pared to other lo­cal govern­ments and in­dus­try in gen­eral,” the re­port said.

“Coun­cil’s abil­ity to bid suc­cess­fully for com­mer­cial work and also un­der­take its own in­ter­nal cap­i­tal works would be lim­ited.

“If these ma­jor union de­mands are sub­stan­tially suc­cess­ful, coun­cil would have to con­sider al­ter­na­tive mod­els of ser­vice de­liv­ery, in­clud­ing out­sourc­ing of work.”

It is un­der­stood there are two work­place agree­ments in place at the Western Downs Re­gional Coun­cil, one cov­er­ing out­door em­ploy­ees and another cov­er­ing in­door em­ploy­ees.

The Ser­vices Union, which cov­ers the coun­cil’s in­door em­ploy­ees, has not yet put a log of claims to the coun­cil for bar­gain­ing, which is due to oc­cur next month.

The Aus­tralian Work­ers Union, re­spon­si­ble for both in­door and out­door coun­cil em­ploy­ees, was con­tacted for com­ment. The union had “no in­for­ma­tion on the mat­ter”. The CFMEU was also con­tacted for com­ment but did not re­spond be­fore dead­line.

The de­tails on union de­mands were con­tained within the coun­cil’s mid-year bud­get re­view, which iden­ti­fied the de­mands as a “ma­jor risk” to the re­vised bud­get.

Other “ma­jor risks” to coun­cil’s bot­tom line in the 2016-17 year in­cluded fur­ther amal­ga­ma­tions of re­source com­pany prop­er­ties caus­ing fur­ther losses of rev­enues.

An ex­am­ple of this would be the coun­cil’s Supreme Court le­gal bat­tle with the State Gov­ern­ment’s Valuer-Gen­eral over the amal­ga­ma­tion of 45 QGC-owned lots into one, which punched a min­i­mum $2m hole in the coun­cil’s bud­get.

The re­port also listed as a “ma­jor risk” fur­ther clo­sures of work­ers’ camps, caus­ing loss of rev­enues over and above the $1.5m pro­vided for in 2016-17.

“There are un­paid rates and charges with re­spect to work­ers’ camps of $1.15m. This is likely to grow to $1.93m by June 30,” the re­port read.

“Some of these out­stand­ings may be re­cov­ered through leg­isla­tive pro­cesses, how­ever this may or may not re­cover the amounts out­stand­ing.”

The fourth and fi­nal “ma­jor risk” was for pro­posed cap­i­tal works to not be com­pleted by the June 30 dead­line.

If these ma­jor union de­mands are sub­stan­tially suc­cess­ful, coun­cil would have to con­sider al­ter­na­tive mod­els of ser­vice de­liv­ery, in­clud­ing out­sourc­ing of work.

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