West Wimmera staff criticise shire management dispute

WEST Wimmera Shire councillors have described a management dispute as damaging to the shire's image and staff.

Earlier this month, staff passed a vote of no confidence against the shire's chief executive Mark Crouch and general manager Venkat Peteti.

Employees said they felt there was a lack of process throughout the restructure of the family and community services area.

At a council meeting on Thursday night, Cr Annette Jones requested more transparency on the issue.

"Council should be provided with a more full budget for the proposed restructure and be informed of the legal expenses to date," she said.

She also requested council set aside time next month to discuss the matter and what restructuring options and alternatives were available to council.

"This issue has been widely damaging to the shire," she said.

"I am concerned about the unnecessarily damage to staff morale and am afraid the ratepayers might have to pay large legal costs for this."

She said management had described the dispute as part of a 'normal process'.

"Having a case with the Fair Work Commission is not normal for us," she said.

Cr Warren Wait said it was a major issue for the shire and he was concerned about how it was affecting staff.

"When the costs come in we need to know what they are," he said.

"We also need to know if there are other ways to do this we must consider if there are any alternatives to the restructure."

Australian Services Union organiser Mark Brady met Mr Crouch and Mr Peteti last week.

"We didn't get the outcome we wanted in the meeting, but council has since written to me and given an official notification of the planned restructure," Mr Brady said.

"We will now meet our lawyers to find out if the letter constitutes proper notification."

Mr Brady said the union had lodged paperwork with the Fair Work Commission, but would withdraw it if the letter was deemed satisfactory.

He said the union would meet West Wimmera management again tomorrow.

Mr Crouch said he was reviewing aspects of service delivery in family and community services.

"We are looking at how we can improve service delivery in this important area of our operations," he said.

"This is part of the normal processes to facilitate any changes.

"Making organisational changes is never easy, but councils like any organisation must look at how they operate and if there are improved ways to deliver these services."

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