Friday 14 August 2009

Cairns Council outsources jobs

An angry ground of skilled Council workers, including electricians and plumbers, took to the streets outside the Spense Street Council office yesterday, to show their disgust at a sudden move to outsource key jobs.

This follows an embarrassing sewage generator breakdown on the weekend at the Portsmith Treatment plant, that caused a sewerage spill into Trinity Inlet. The Environmental Protection Agency were not informed at the time.

The problem arose due to an Ergon power outage and the Council back-up generator failed. Council operations manager for Cairns Water, Alex Ung, who was first alerted to the incident, did not call Council electricians to fix the problem.

"A contractor was engaged that could not fix the fault prior to the sewerage overflowing," Stuart Traill, of the ETU said. "This led to raw sewerage flowing into the street and down the drains for over an hour. The drain is only 200m from the inlet."

Vacuum trucks were sent to site on Sunday morning to clean up the mess, and on Monday, Council electrical staff repaired the generator fault.

"I contacted the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday at lunchtime and they advised me that the incident had not been reported to them," Stuart Traill said.

"The ETU has major concerns that a Council manager was onsite, was aware of the urgency of the situation, did not contact his own electricians," Stuart says. "He witnessed the spill, engaged vacuum trucks the next day to clean up the mess and did not report the incident to the relevant authorities."

Stuart Traill met with key Cairns Regional Council staff last week, including Peter Tabulo, Brett Grosser, Steve Booker and Alex Ung to discuss this issue and proposed a meeting to negotiate a compromised position regarding Council staff performing after hours response work.

"I stated that I would prefer to negotiate an acceptable arrangement to all parties than expose the Council to an environmental issue and then argue the issue out in the press," Stuart Traill said. "I was then told by Brett not to make threats and that Council had decided to use contractors for after hours response."

"This decision demonstrates the short sighted views of Council management."

Alex Ung admitted to Union members that contractors would cost more than internal staff and his preference was for internal staff to perform the work, contractors do not have all the necessary inductions, qualifications and PPE to perform the work, response and repair times will be increased by using contractors for response work.

"I would have thought that during tough economic times that Council management would want the most cost-effective and efficient after hours response," Traill says.

Yesterday, in a knee-jerk response to the embarrassing situation, Graham Dunstan, who reports to Alex Ung, sent a message to staff, advising contact details for "AFTER HOURS ELECTRICAL AND MECHANICAL SERVICES ON CLEANER SEAS UPGRADED PLANTS."
  • Until further notice the service providers detailed below will supply tradesmen for the rectification of after-hours mechanical and electrical failures.

    In addition all mechanical and electrical repairs and preventative maintenance programs, normally performed by CRC Water & Waste fitters and electricians will until further notice, be done by Cleaner Seas contractors and sub-contractors.

    Please find following contact numbers for after hours (5.00pm to 7.00am) Mechanical and Electrical support.

    If Jason McDonald is not contactable after hours (5.00pm to 7.00am) please contact the following Electrical personnel directly.

    (five contractors listed)

    If Barry Simpson is not contactable after hours (5.00pm to 7.00am) please contact the following Mechanical personnel directly.

    (Four contractors listed)

    Mechanical & Electrical support during normal work hours (7.00am to 5.00pm) please contact:

    (More contractors listed)


    (Eight contractors listed)

    Negotiations are continuing with other companies for the supply of mechanical staff – this list will be updated as more supplies come on-line.

    HOWEVER Minor (submersible) pump blockages will be repaired by Operations call-out staff. There will be no need to call in a contract fitter and turner unless absolutely necessary.

When questioned, the mayor, Val Schier, Acting CEO Peter Tabulo, and Brett Grosser knew nothing about the memo.

In the Local Government Workforce Transition Code Of Practice, no employee can be retrenched, excluding the CEO prior to 16 March 2011.

50% of Cairns Water work is in the Waste Treatment Plants. It appears Council management would be happy to employ their staff to do nothing for 50% of the time until March 2011 and engage contractors to do their jobs at additional cost to ratepayers.

"It would be laughable if it wasn’t true," Stuart Traill says.

When asked yesterday how they felt, the Council workers protesting asked for respect for their skills and staff.

"We don't want contractors to do the job we're employed to do, ratepayers will pay the cost. This is another example of the Council wasting our rates. Don't outsource our jobs."


Wade said...

The less unionised workers we have the better.

The ETU thrive on scaremongering and they are at their best here.
Their concerns about the environment and the current economic conditions are shallow and nothing more then an oppurtunity to get them in the headlines. A Typical Union ploy of spruiking the populist crap about unfair working conditions and that they are so hard done by blah blah blah.

Perhaps the CRC should have been a bit more urgent in the intial response to the spill but to suggest that only the ETU Electricians are capable of fixing the problem is absurd and a complete fabrication of the truth.

nocturnal congress said...

Yeah Wade, and wouldn't you be the bloody first to open that big mouth and scream if you and your family came down with hepatitis, cholera, shigella, E coli etc. Ever seen a sick kid with gastroenteritis mate? You understand that kids can and do die from this?
Do some research mate and read about all the disasters which have occurred, ie Sydney Water Supply, when "outsourcing" happened.
Yeah and wouldn't it be MARVELLOUS for the tourist industry if Cairns had a cholera epidemic. That'd be the last bloody straw.
The union are doing the right thing in this case.

Wade said...

Nocturnal - you have obviously read the ETU book of "how to influence weak people and scare the hell out of everyone else"

While you at it - you might aswell add in AIDS, Swine Flu, Cancer and the Plague.

I stand by my comments.

I'd give a contractor work over any unionist hack anyday.

Stuart Traill said...

It's a shame that you have resorted to Union bashing comments without knowing the truth in an attempt to ttake tthe focus off the real issues.
The fact is that CRC ETU members attended the fault that the contractor couldn't fix on Monday morning and had the generator going in 5 minutes.
If our guys were called on Saturday there would not have been a spill.
It does not make sense to use contractors when suitably qualified and experienced staff are available to attend especially when it is cheaper to all of us as ratepayers.
The risk of an environmental spill due to CRC outsourcing strategy has been highlighted to management on countless occasions.
To date Council has ignored our concerns.
They are the facts.
My members have taken an extremely responsible approach to this issue and deserve the support of the community on this issue.

nocturnal congress said...

Wade, I've mentioned those diseases which are directly caused by pathogens in sewerage. You need to educate yourself a bit more about disease, mate, for your own sake you might save your own kid from getting gastroenteritis or even your own life. The matter of a breakdown in the citys sewerage generator is a serious matter, not a trivial thing. The union has done the right thing here by us all.

Alison Alloway said...

Hot on the heels of the worst dengue outbreak in recent decades, no, we certainly don't want an outbreak of hepatitis or gastroenteritis. For a start, it would be doubtful if our Cairns Base Hospital could cope. Well done, Stuey and the Union.

Wade said...

Yea thank god for Unions - I mean only ETU electricians are REAL electricians.

I dont know how independent sparkies can survive without their ETU qualifications.

Well done stuey - you look great in the papers.

colin riddell said...

You morons that union bash crap me to death ! do you think the bosses just decided one day to
1. give you 4 weeks annual leave because you look tired.
2.give you 8 days sick leave. you overtime .
4.give you rostered days off.
5.bereavement leave ,the bloody list is endless !
good on stewie traill fighting for whatever he does , if he ran for leichardt I would vote for him .
You morons should grow a brain before you knock any union as they along with workers losing thousands of hours money fought to get the conditions for morons like you! The trouble is not many of you lazy arse union bashers ever lost a cent because you scabbed or dodged paying a union ,but took the benifets ! ps yes I have been a union member AND a manager for 15 yrs !

Wade said...

Do members pay the "I cant act on my own behalf i need someone else to make my decisions and i will blindly accept everything they say" fees in Brown paper bags ?

Im pretty sure people can get them from any true blood union official - However i think there maybe a "Cash only" preference. I dont know - maybe some of the Unions members here can let me know.

I believe Unions had a place in the past - and that is where they belong.

Stuart Traill said...

There will always be a place for Unions whilst people like you are around.
Electricians join the Union because they believe in it and yes there are a lot of good electricians as there are bad ones. ETU membership does not give them any special powers other than the belief that if they stick together they are better off than on their own.
These workers are fighting for what is right, a council that values its staff, a council that fully utilises their staff prior to engaging contractors,
a council that does not waste ratepayers money and then expect us all to swallow another rate rise.
Look again at the facts, a contractor was called on Saturday, couldn't get the generator started, sewarage overflows for an hour,the EPA weren't notified by Monday lunchtime,Council electricians attend Monday morning to work on plant they are experienced in, get it started in 5mins, Council reacts by contracting out 50% of their jobs. If you have an issue with unions go your hardest on that issue but don't crucify these workers.
They are a decent bunch of blokes standing up to an employer making crazy decisions that not only affect them but the broader community.

Unknown said...

Wade, if people were not being exploited, there would be no need for unions.
Too many people bash unions and at the same time take for granted all the benefits that they are enjoying thanks to those same unions.
Go and work in construction,manufacturing or hospitality for a while.It might broaden your perspective.

hieronymus bosch said...

just out of interest, who is wade?

one of howard's battlers or some soft handed 'businessman'?

i thought this council's recent budget was cutting contracts, not permanent staff.

anyone hear val boasting a while ago that council had cut $8 million from various departments?

$300 mill 'business'.

a whopping 0.026% cut in spending.

Former Brinsmead Union Member said...

Say Stuart,

You're the same union thugs that have been plastering the city with hard-to-remove red and yellow stickers attacking the Premier. Is this how concerned you are about the community and council? Trashing the city with your political messages - public and private property be damned?

The unions day is over, and they should be outlawed. They rely mostly on criminal acts and thuggish behaviour to support themselves - even the union members see little from their membership. The unions exist only to perpetuate themselves.

KitchenSlut said...

Is this the same outspoken Stuey Traill who turned belly up for his tummy to be scratched after initial support for the Yacht Club went missing and never heard from again?

He is now dogmatically "fighting for what is right"? There were far more obvious moral rights and wrongs previously Stuey and guess what? You failed!

Contractor said...

How Council Waste and Water Electrical workers operate.

Let's say a bolt needs tightening in a sewerage pump station.
Send ot 4 "tradesmen".
Each in their own Council suppled vehicle.
supplied to come and go from work as well.
Unlock the door.
Once the door is "unlocked" there is extra rate plus extra rate plus extra loaded on top of an overly generous hourly rate.
Have a smoke
Discuss which bolt needs tightening.
Have another smoke.
Go inside and look at the bolt.
Outside again for another smoke.
Inside to make sure that this is the correct bolt.
Consult the spanner manual to see whic shifter to use.
Have another smoke and eat a pie.
Go inside for final confirmation of the correct bolt.
Each tradesman takes turns tightening the bolt a quarter turn.
Have another smoke.
Go back inside to ensure the bolt is still tight.
Final smoke and 4 hours later.
Get into 4 separate Council vehicles and back to base for the next bolt schedule.
Oh oh ... someone forgot to lock the door.
Who has the key?

norm gallagher from the grave said...

Funny the gutless nameless wonders attacking stuart haven,t answered one thing on the blog by colin? is he right gutless ones?

Alison Alloway said...

The day of the trade union is not over. One of the last things I did as a union delegate in the Public Service where I worked was to provide a submission to management for a few positions to be made as "home based". The Department where I worked was largely staffed by women and management was very concerned at the high rate of absenteeism. I undertook a study and found the largest cause was "caring responsibilities". The women were taking leave to look after sick children or to care for ailing parents or partner. I worked until the early hours of the morning, preparing and detailing the submission and presented it to the Manager the following morning. He was delighted. Not so, some of the anti-union women who had made it perfectly clear they "did not support unions, because we got everything we need."

"NUK!" shrieked one pig faced woman, "Dun like it. Yer come to work, to work, I reckon."
"If their kids are sick then maybe they shouldn't be working anyway!" sniffed the office spinster.

The Manager called for volunteers to test the initiative.
Yep, you can guess who put their hands up so fast they created a massive wind tunnel in the office.

(Hehe, whenever I ask people to guess who...everyone can answer!)

Seems pig-face's young son had suddenly developed measles, and the office spinster's Mother was home from hospital after recovering from a broken hip and required some daily help!!!

Unions face and continue to face all sorts of challenges in the workplace. One rapidly arriving challenge is the ageing of the workforce.

Dallas said...

On this occasion there was an overflow into the drain adjacent to Kate Street, there have been countless overflows into this drain over many years for a variety of reasons. On this occasion there was NO loss of sewage water to Trinity Inlet, the vacuum trucks picked it up quite efficiently, on other occasions there have been losses to the waters of Trinity Inlet.

As I said, the reasons for those overflows are many and varied, but they include occasions when electrical or other faults were not repaired by council technicians in time as well as times when contractors have been responsible.

The issues that the rate payers might like to consider are firstly the effectiveness of the processes put in place by council to rectify faults and prevent these overflows and secondly whether it is a council technician on overtime or a contractor on contractor rates.

As always, truth is the first victim in war.

colin riddell said...

Funny alison , it reminds me of the time I was the site convenor at adi, we were supposed to be a greenfields union free site full of happy bush people. But in reality when you put 300 odd souls in a confined space , they bicker, fight back stab ,shafted by managers ,sexually harrassed and so on , I spent half of my day representing people that did that in varying degrees.
We had about 80 unionists at first and 200 or so non unionists, as time went by , I helped many people , we asked with no pressure do you want to join ,many said no.
That was fine.
We had mass meetings on the ebas and the nons wanted everything without paying dues.
So one day I thought I would tell those non unionists , that as I did the job for free and so did my six other stewards ,that is we recieved nothing not even reduced fees ,zip all. That we would not allow anyone not in the union at the time trouble hit them in the face ! to join the union , as many said when and if they got into trouble they would just join then .
And I would have to look after them.WRONG!
I also rang melbourne and told them if they sign up any of these shifties before they checked with us ,to see if they had been in trouble ,we would all resign from our roles,as the union only wanted members no matter what.
Or would they be allowed to attend eba mass meetings with paying union members ,that the previous site convenor allowed, within 2 weeks we were flooded by the shifty non unionists with applications and our membership was 234 in our union alone.
So to all the union knockers that ,get sacked ,get hurt, have kids that are not in a union , remember are you smart enough to take on a huge body that shafts you?

Unknown said...

Hear hear !

I have seen it in many workplaces with the non-union members always whinging about bloody unions and at the same time too gutless to stand up for their rights, too gutless to support their work mates and too gutless or dumb to negotiate a decent EBA. But they are first in line when it comes to collecting the benefits, without paying their dues.

As far as contractors are concerned;there is no doubt that, overall, contractors are more efficient than people on a wage as they are paid a set,performance based,fee.

That does not mean that using contractors by councils, etc. is desirable.Outsourcing and privatising of government services usually results in inferior, run-down service, because of cost-cutting. You get what you pay for !

Alison Alloway said...

Yes indeed, non-unionists are very vocal and scornful of the work the union delegate does, but are indecent in their haste to grab the benefits of unionism.
The Manager of my public service office used my initiative with "home based" positions to get himself a promotion and was transferred. I resigned not long after from the public service.
Over a process of time, the union disappeared in that office. So, too did the "home based" positions I had painstakingly identified and written job descriptions for.
Just recently, I saw where the Executives of the agency were again lamenting the high rate of staff absenteeism, (which is, in fact the highest of all Government workplaces.)
Well, what can you say, except to just shrug and shake your head???

Blogster said...

Yes, Alison, that's what the government seems to be about. Wasting money. And don't learn from mistakes.

I have no issues with unions as such, but do object to unions abusing their power, such as police, education and airline unions.

KitchenSlut said...

Oh dear! Amidst the muck above the usual political small ball tactics no response when challenged on the bona fides of Stuey Traill?

While on the moral virtues of the trade union movement (moralitry being the way this was presented here for Stuey ie: we represent what is right) a very interesting circumstance arises here for the grand old Lake Eacham Hotel at Yungaburra!

Oh dear! The GFC was driven by private greed wasn't it? Those dastardly yiddish bankers Syd would say? The current economic destruction of Yungaburra resulting from the closure and receivership of the historic Pub was driven by some extraordinary loans and business activity based on some extraordinary credit standards from the professed "conservative" lending standards of ..... Member Equity! The banking division of the trade union owned Industry Super Funds? Perhaps we can get even Stuey Traill to emerge into transparency and comment?

There has been substantial historical and business damage done to this pub and the communty by the trade union lenders amorality, incompetence and unprofessionalism!
What has happened here is a tragedy to match or beat anything like Tom Hedley or Roy Lavis! There will be more to come on this!

Note: Kitchenslut is currently bound by certain confidentiality provisions so can't say too much pending outcomes of receivership.

Unknown said...

Well please reveal all when you can Kitchenslut. I have been a very happy client of ME for many years. Best deal all around without doubt. So I am troubled by your revelation ! But can you blame one member for the sins of his union? And ME is the banker of many Super Funds, not just Trade Union ones...

Thaddeus said...

Well said Nick. ME is indeed the banker of many Super funds. Yungaburra has more to offer than just its old pub by the way. There are some very talented artists exhibiting stuff up there.
The wife also goes to lots of quilt making demonstrations blah blah whatever in the old Yungaburra.

Unknown said...

Ignore poor old Slut. He's just a lazy Tory apologist for whom facts are a mere incovenience. Members' Equity is in fact a fully fledged bank, originally an initiative of the old National Mutual to tap into industry super funds. It is regulated like any other bank. Its lending policies are the same as any other bank. It has NEVER been controlled by unions, either through its board or its management. In fact the highly rergarded Bernie Fraser, a former governor of the Reserve Bank, is chairman. It has always had one or two union representatives on its board, which is something a lot of other financial institutions could well emulate, given their impeccable reputation for professionalism and probity, unlike a lot of directors who are financial planners, accountants and lawyers out to feather their own nests through hidden commissions, fees and charges. I think you willfind that the appropriately named Slut may well be a mate of or professional provider to the aforesaid Yungaburra pub. The fact that he hasn't waited until the due processes of investigation and the law take their course, choosing instead to make wild and unsubstantiated assertions, reminds me of the biased and one-sided rubbish printed in the Compost. Rubbish that he is happy to lambast the Compost for.

KitchenSlut said...

Dear old Unda! I will respond in specific detail later however mate you appear to be somewhat delusional?

It's difficult to know where to begin! Members Equity has always been associated with the union movement even from it's joint venture roots with NM which is ancient history? Bernie Fraser is respected? The principal architect of the recession we had to have is not respected by me mate! His ex boss Keating is respected by me for his achievements albeit with recognition of severe personality defects and recognition disorder even beyond that usually attributed to politicians!

"The fact that he hasn't waited until the due processes of investigation and the law take their course, choosing instead to make wild and unsubstantiated assertions, reminds me of the biased and one-sided rubbish printed in the Compost."

I have no damned idea what what you are talking about here? Do you yourself? No I represent no one professionally except myself and close associateshave been restricted on commentary as someone prepared to stump up most of their wealth and punt it into a high risk venture on the Yungaburra Pub because I believed in it but also wanted a return commensrate with effort and risk.

We lost. There is now a contract on the Pub and we wish them well and will be there to share a beer. I am probably in breach of my own tender submission for posting this. It's the saddest financial case I have ever seen.

I maintain that the Members Equity loan to the most recent owners was either dodgy or incompetent. It was wildly overgeareed to an incompetent operator to an extent that would make any Wall St banker blush. This has endangered a heritage building essential to the economy of Yungaburra and the cultural values of FNQ.

Irresponsible lending and appalling credit controls on its proudly high growth commercial book from an organisation which in its last annual report boasted of its conservative credit standards!

The effect on the town of Yungaburra has been destructive! We did our local research for the bid and know this!

Thaddeus said...

KitchenSlut, I believe Yungaburra will thrive. It has become a known centre for fine dining and arts and crafts.

Jack said...

Fine dining ?

I hope you're not talking about that swiss restaurant up there..

Unknown said...

oh. i see. you were an investor? so the stuff you published was just a one-sided rant from a failed business venturer blaming someone else? We've heard that one before from Christopher Skase and Allan Bond, Ray Williams and Eddy Groves and so on and so on. all brilliant entrepreneurs, each and every one of them brought low through no fault of their own. what a joke you born-to-rulers are.

So your post is not the balanced independent outside view of the circumstances of the pub as you so sneakily tried to portray it (no mention in the original post about your involvement, was there?). It was from someone who has lost money and is now lashing out at the union movement and union leader stuart traill to try to avoid taking one iota of responsibility for his own actions.

this allegation about the union movement being responsible for the demise of your venture is sheer fantasy, isn't it? I suppose from that logic the union movement was to blame for the black plague? the broncos losing the final origin game? global warming? the boils of Job? my breakfast marmalade going off? the Global Financial Crisis?

your hysterical, rambling and incoherent posts are dishonesty writ large. you should have put them in the Cairns Post.

cutting hedge said...

Hhhhhhhaaaaa what a joke now it becomes apparent that kitchen slur is a failed ,whineing, sour investor. And it is on this basis he attacks a fine young union leader, a bloke that spends his time fighting for the rights of workers that lose entitlements as a result of failed investors ,such as kitchen slur, that more than likely inherited daddys money and got done on a deal of a pub in whoop whoop west Hhhhaaaa you made my day.

KitchenSlut said...

To clarify the situation lest unseemly mirth overcome Unda and Slashed Hedge I am NOT an investor in the said pub and have NOT lost money. I was part of a tender bid for the currently shut pub assets from the receiver. We lost the tender to a higher bidder.

This may not have been adequately clear as I lost some text during the posting process somehow. However you seem to have interpreted what you wanted to believe based on your prejudices and stereotypes rather than read what was written.

There are confidentiality provisions on tenderers including publicising a tender in any way, which I may have now breached. However, what has happened here deserves public disclosure. I contacted MM some weeks ago that there was a story to tell in the Yungaburra Pub that did not reflect well on the banking standards at Members Equity but I couldn't disclose it because of my position.

My costs were a few hundred dollars for research expenses and my own time which I dont see as a loss but an investment given how much I learned from the experience. The losers, apart from the inept previous owners, will be the lenders, creditors including many small tablelands businesses, and Yungaburra which has suffered economically and socially from the decline and closure of the pub.

ME will not recover the value of their loan from the sale however my guess is that they may have a claim over private assets of the previous owners. There was a hearsay rumour passed on that three families had lost their homes. This correlates with info from the previous owner lodged by the receiver with ASIC home mortgage funds were used for the business investment. My speculative guess is that direct and underlying debts on this may amount to three times what the current sale price could be. Those small local creditors will get nothing.

Kitchenslut has a personal aversion to institutional cultures whether they be corporate, church or trade union. There is a brand of mindless devout unionism which has much in common with religion. This builds myths on the delusion of superior virtue whether it be reflected in a belief that ME is virtuously superior to the other nasty bankers or that council workers are superior to contractors.

Slashed Hedge, old mate, Kitcheslut worked twenty years 'down mine' in the most militantly unionised industry for his money and has ample personal experience of the good, bad and ugly of unionism. The council v contractors diversion exposes the same arguments and tactics the mining industry was dealing with years ago and is hypocritical cant (no apostrophe)more to do with maximising fee paying union workers to support the organisation than any interest of the broader community.

Thaddeus, I don't disagree with you on Yungaburra but that niche market is too narrow currently and high risk and the town has languished for a few years now correlated with the decline of the pub. Local business is critical to the vitality of the town. We didn't go in lightly on this project but with a firm belief in the potential of Yungaburra and a love for a magnificent old heritage icon tempered with financial reality. The persoanl work, hours, effort and commitment required would have been punishing to do what we wanted to do. The pub has been run down to such poor condition that it requires substantial expenditure before reopening the doors, let alone return it to the standard of a few years ago, or make it what it could be.

We look forward to the success of whoever the new owners are so that Yungaburra can thrive as a community and we can enjoy what it uniquely offers to our region .... and a beer too :)

P.S. Anyone who knows me will get a real laugh out of your attempt Unda to associate me with Skase, Bondy and Eddy Groves. Too longwinded already so wont bore you with my credentials in shareholder activism and advocacy against financial shonks but simply pass it around my mates so we can all giggle Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho

Dallas said...

I didn’t know anything about ME’s involvement in the Yungaburra pub, I’m just a simpleton when it comes to the world of high finance and investment. I have never been in a position to be in a union, not terribly impressed with any of them to be honest.

But I did get the shits with the major banks a few years ago and looked for an alternative and using ME for all my banking needs has been a winner for me. As I said, I’m no finance wiz but I am pretty good at maths and I know I saved myself a lot of fees, charges and interest by switching to ME.

Thaddeus said...

Thanks for that info KitchenSlut. I did stay in the old pub there a couple of years ago, and yes, it was pretty run down. I found myself checking out all the fire escapes before bedding down for the night and wondering how I would get my large frame down them.