NOT all of Fremantle’s councillors were made aware of how many staff were being stood down to stem the city’s losses from the impact of Covid-19.
“I think a number of elected members were surprised that list of less than 50 staff who had been targeted for redeployment became 60 effectively stood down and with no option for redeployment,” councillor Sam Wainwright told the Herald this week.
The city’s socialist councillor has put forward a motion for the next council meeting calling on the administration to look at redeploying them “as soon as possible”.
“While council recognises the extreme pressure on its budget caused by Covid-19 shutdowns and the need to find savings, it also acknowledges that requiring some staff in areas that are largely closed to take leave without pay for an extended period is particularly onerous for the individuals concerned,” his motion reads.
Cr Wainwright said his resolution also sought to formalise a proper advocacy campaign to convince the state and federal governments to provide support for local governments during the shutdown.
“The need and • potential for local government to serve its community is only heightened in context of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
“Many other sectors that have seen their turnover reduced have benefited from assistance such as the unconditional grant of $715 million given to the airlines or via the JobKeeper program.
“Yet to date local government has been specifically excluded.”
Cr Wainwright acknowledged the admin’s decision to stand down the staff had created a “serious political problem”.
“In reality we need the council, unions and community united in an effort to get state or federal assistance in order to save services and jobs in Fremantle.
“But I think that will be very hard to achieve if the city is the bad guy locked in a drawn-out PR and industrial battle over the staff stand downs.”
Meanwhile several casual staff from Melville council who’d been employed at its LeisureFit centres contacted the Herald this week following our story about Fremantle council (“Council slammed over mass stand downs,” April 18, 2020).
“I’ve worked there for over nine years and I have been told I won’t be paid my long service leave because I am a casual,” one worker told the Herald.
Saying their were more than 150 casual employees put out of work by Melville, the staffer said they’d lodged an unfair dismissal claim but that wouldn’t help them in their current predicament.
“Who knows how long that will take,” she said.
By STEVE GRANT