Pushing for Consultation at Churches of Christ - Union issues notification of Dispute

Our union is continuing to push for your right to be consulted by Churches of Christ to ensure your voice is heard when it comes to changes to your employment resulting from the decision to hand back their Youth Residential, Supported Independent Living and Family Support Services contract to the State Government.

It is very disappointing that, despite Churches of Christ indicating a willingness to work with us, they have not actively engaged in consultation with your Union, before publishing communications about the ongoing nature of your employment.

At our meetings with employees this week we advised that we have notified Churches of Christ of the dispute that now exists due to their failure to consult with us in accordance with your Agreement. So far, Churches of Christ have not responded in detail.

Genuine consultation requires the sharing of information and an opportunity to explore options that will reduce the impact of this decision on you. Your employer has an obligation to engage in genuine consultation about all options to maintain your employment including a Transfer of Business among other things. This is not an easy process. It is industrially complex and requires the Department Child Safety, Seniors and Disability Services (“the Department”), Churches of Christ, your Union and any new service provider/s to enter into discussions about how these contracts might transmit.

In all our conversations with the Churches of Christ, the Department and the Minister, Craig Crawford, we have sort to implement the following strategies to ensure your voice is heard:  

1.            Open Communication Channels at work: Establish an open-door policy or create designated channels and face to face opportunities for employees and The Services Union to voice opinions and concerns. This will help foster transparency and create a sense of inclusion among the workforces.

2.            Transfer of business: To advocate that the transition out of Youth Residential, Supported Independent Living and Family Support Services by Churches of Christ occurs via a transfer of business i.e., the service contracts along with the young people and staff move to another provider. This would ensure continuity of care, a smooth transition and retention of employment, as well as maintain accrued entitlements. This would require the establishment of a representative process with the Department and providers as well as your Union to ensure all stakeholders perspectives are considered in decision-making processes.

3.            Equitable pay and working conditions for transitioning staff: Ensuring that existing conditions and pay, are maintained or improved, will need to be a key consideration to ensure employees are not negatively impacted by the transition.

The Services Union is by your side and doing everything we can to seek to implement the above strategies including seeking to meet with prospective service providers who may tender for the contracts. We have also been keeping the Minister updated.

Information that you are seeking:

We know you all have many questions about how this affects your employment. Questions around redundancy and redeployment are at the forefront given the recent communications from Churches of Christ. It is almost impossible to answer these questions until the outcome of discussions with the Department are had and the transition of the service contracts is known. In addition what redeployment and redundancy provisions apply will be specific to individuals. Redundancy provisions (clause 10); Termination of Employment (clause 8) and prorate provisions for Long Service Leave (clause 33.3) can all be found in your Agreement and you can access a copy here . If you are currently on any form of long term leave or about to go on long term leave e.g. Parental leave and have concerns about your options, we suggest that you call The Services Union to make an intake appointment. Call 3844 5300 or email [email protected].

We encourage everyone to continue spreading the word about your Union and the benefits of membership. Remember, the more members we have, the stronger our voice becomes. If your colleagues haven’t yet joined, they can at https://www.theservicesunion.com.au/tsu/join . Those impacted by this issue who join before the 30 July 2023,will have our initial servicing period (ISP) waived, after this date our ISP policy applies.

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please complete our form by clicking here  or contact Stuart Maggs on 0439 713 803 or email [email protected]. Your input is invaluable as we strive to create a better work environment for all our members.

By your side,

The Services Union

Above: An update for members at Churches of Christ