West Wimmera Shire Council dispute close to resolution

AN INDUSTRIAL dispute between West Wimmera Shire Council and its employees looks set to be resolved after a FairWork action was cancelled.

Last month, 95 per cent of staff endorsed a vote of no confidence in chief executive Mark Crouch and general manager Venkat Peteti.

Australian Services Union organiser Mark Brady said management had attempted to restructure the family and community services area without proper consultation.

“We met with them and we think we’ve resolved the issue,” he said. 

Mr Brady said the dispute could have been avoided if management had worked within the enterprise bargaining agreement.

“I had a bit of a crack at them because I had received an email from a reliable source that showed the Department of Human Services would be funding a position for an extra two days a week,” he said.

He said the extra funding would be crucial to the two parties reaching an agreement.

“The restructure has now changed a bit and this extra funding makes a big difference.”

Mr Brady said Mr Peteti had withheld the department’s email during negotiations with the union.

He said the email was sent on March 6, but the union had not learnt about it until March 25.

“Now they’ve actually consulted properly and we’re 95 per cent of the way there with our negotiations,” Mr Brady said.

He said there would be no forced redundancies, but the nature of one position would change and the employee concerned would be able to take a voluntary redundancy.

Mr Brady said he hoped the council would learn from the attempted restructure to avoid future disputes.

“If they follow the procedures, we don’t need to get to this point,” he said.

Mr Crouch said he hoped a resolution could be reached within the month.

“It’s a process; no final decision has been made,” he said.

“We’re going through a restructuring within the area of family and community services and we’re going through a process there.”

He said he was unable to elaborate further on the details of the negotiations or the restructure.

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