WDRC potential payrise costly for ratepayers
Report indicates union demands could prove costly for ratepayers
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.