City staff support employment variation

City of Albany, Western Australia, employees overwhelmingly supported a proposal take a pay cut to save jobs and assist Council to balance its budget in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

A record 94 percent of staff – or 279 from 298 eligible employees – cast their vote to determine the outcome of a proposed variation to the City’s enterprise agreement, with 76 percent voting yes.

It came after the Mayor and Councillors unanimously agreed to lead the way and take a 20 percent cut to their pay, and the Chief Executive Officer, Executive Directors and Managers signed up to the proposal.

Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Sharpe said it was a very proud day for the City.

“This vote really speaks volumes for the positive culture of the City of Albany and I’m very thankful to our staff that they’ve backed this proposal in and we can avoid job losses.

“All along we’ve been clear that we’re in this together and this vote shows that we really are, we’re a very united team, we’re being accountable for the budget challenges we face and we’re focused on continuing to support our community.”

The City forecast a loss in revenue of more than $7 million this calendar year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Council endorsed a strategy to address the deficit by reducing staff costs, cutting capital works and using reserve funds.

To address staff costs, the City proposed a variation to the enterprise agreement that would freeze wage increases in 2020-2021, and reduce weekly ordinary hours of work by 20 percent between July and December this year.

“What we’re asking staff to do is take existing annual leave or long service leave entitlements, or leave without pay to reduce ordinary hours across those six months.

“This will save the City around $2.6 million in staff costs, but most importantly will guarantee the ongoing employment of our permanent workforce and the continuation of service delivery to our community during this time.

“Our capacity will be reduced temporarily, but we’ll do our best to manage.”

The final stage of the enterprise agreement variation process is to submit the variation to the Fair Work Commission for assessment and approval.