Thursday 09 Apr 2020

The Australian Services Union (ASU) warns up to 15,000 local government workers in WA are at risk of being stood down during the COVID-19 pandemic, if other local governments follow the lead of Geraldton and Mandurah.

Already, more than 100 workers from the City of Greater Geraldton have been stood down, with staff from the City of Mandurah and the City of Stirling informed they may also suffer the same fate. Yesterday Premier Mark McGowan urged local government to do its part and keep workers employed to ensure Western Australia recovers from the economic impacts.

ASU WA Branch Secretary Wayne Wood commended the Premier’s comments echoing his sentiment that this was a national, state and local effort.

“Local government is working against the State and Commonwealth by standing down staff,” he said.

“To have councils standing people down, pre-empting how much money they will lose, is not within the boundaries of the Fair Work Act and that is why the ASU has launched disputes with the City of Greater Geraldton and the City of Mandurah.

“Many of our members who have been stood down don’t have accrued leave and are now wondering how they will put food on the table for their families.

“Permanent staff in Geraldton were not even given an option of working from home or negotiated pay cuts, they were just told not to return. This is not helpful during a pandemic.

“At a time like this, councils should be more sympathetic and work with workers and the union to come to a solution.

“Local government provides West Australians with essential services and staff should be able to be redeployed if their job is no longer available. We have already seen hysteria over toilet paper, what would happen if residents lost valuable council services?

“Everyone is taking a hit right now, and local government needs to step up and play its part in looking after workers and protecting WA’s economy,” Mr Wood said.

View a PDF version of this release.