TMR: COVID-19 update

Posted on April 3, 2020

We hope you are all keeping well!

In this constantly moving feast we wanted to send through another update.

Transport Inspectors:

  • There are now amended procedures for how you go about your duties – the Department circulated these this week.
  • Members have also raised concerns about proposed changes to flexible working arrangements – no changes should be occurring to your hours of work or roster arrangements without prior consultation. We have had it confirmed that all staff who were told their flexible work arrangements had been ceased have now been told they are back to their normal work arrangements. If this has not occurred for you, then please let me know immediately.

Driving Examiners:

  • All driving tests have been ceased.
  • Driving examiners will be provided other meaningful work; this will be a moving feast. If you have any concerns at any time please let us know.
  • The Minister's office made contact with your union earlier this week about working together on contingency planning for any shortfalls in drivers in emergent industries. Thank you to the many members that send in their feedback – we will be providing that feedback including questions around how it would work and how they can ensure staff safety to the Minister's office. 
  • If you are a casual employee, the Department have again today committed to maintaining your employment. If you have any questions, concerns or receive advice to the contrary please get in contact with your union.

Customer service centre staff:

  • CSCs have implemented a number of strategies, including hand sanitiser, antibacterial gel, pre-screening customers, and social distancing rules.
  • There is another supply of hygiene products arriving next week. In the meantime CSB are doing a full audit of antibacterial gel and wipes and ensuring centres that are running low are given a top up before they run out.
  • The Department will be working with workers regarding alternative duties as they continue to manage the evolving health pandemic and the changes in service delivery.
  • We have also had a number of members express concerns about being directed to take leave or use their ADO because there is not enough work or to assist in managing social distancing in centres. It is important to know that unless you have excessive leave balances you can not be forced to take leave and leave must be mutually agreed. If this is happening to you, please let me know and we can provide you further specific advice.
  • If you are a casual employee the Department have again this morning committed to maintaining your employment. If you have any questions, concerns or receive advice to the contrary please get in contact with your union.

CSC Review:

TMR contacted your union on Wednesday to seek your support in requesting an extension of one month to 30 June on the CSC review given the current COVID-19 pandemic.

TMR expressed that they are very committed to this review and committed to achieving the best outcomes collaboratively with union member; however, have real concerns about being able to achieve that in the next four weeks in the current environment.

While we know everyone is very eager to get this review completed to get outcomes for CSC staff, we were also conscious that members are really focused at the moment on what this health pandemic will mean to them and their families.

We know the next little while is going to be really challenging for members. There will be changes to the way you do your work, the way you will be managing family commitments and your own health.

We have agreed to extend the timeframe for the review to make sure members can participate meaningfully and that everyone will have time while we adjust to the current conditions.

Work on the review is continuing, we are absolutely acknowledging we will need a little extra time to ensure we get it right.

Our next meeting is Wednesday 8 April.

Corporate office staff:

  • Working from home arrangements have been a common thread of enquiry – where you can, and you aren't required to be in the workplace. Queensland Health and government advice is clear employees should be working from home. If you have any questions or issues please get in contact with us and we can provide you any advice or assistance you need.

COVID-19

  • Every Friday we have teleconference with the Department to raise any new questions or concerns and to talk about the latest developments.
  • The Department are working to identify and develop list of employees who have the skills and are interested in being apart of the Governments ready reserves. We encourage you to participate in these discussions. If you have any questions or concerns about what it means for you, please let us know.
  • If you are redeployed into another role which is of a higher classification, you should be paid at the higher classification.
  • If you have ideas about alternative work, ways to ensure your safety, provide services to the community or anything, the Department have clearly expressed to your union that they want to hear them -speak up! We need all hands on deck and are keen to hear all feedback and ideas from workers.
  • It is important for all members to know your industrial rights do not change as a result of this health pandemic, you have a right to consultation, a right to flexible working arrangements and a right to have a say in changes.

Your wages and conditions

Public sector workers are the backbone of Queensland. You are on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis. It is the public sector that is protecting Queenslanders and ensuring that everyone stays safe. You are the people who are going out so that others can stay home and be safe.

We also know that for many public sector workers, your household income has been hit hard by job losses and loss of income. We have heard from members about partners, children and family members losing their jobs because of COVID-19 and the current crisis. This means that – more than ever - public sector wages are keeping Queensland families afloat.

So what is this wage freeze?

Yesterday, there were reports of the Premier suggesting some sort of "hold" on wages for public sector workers. She made this comment in response to a question regarding a Courier Mail article that ran yesterday. This article was completely incorrect and motivated by anti-public sector politics - the article was part of attacks on the public service that people like Campbell Newman are leading.

Industrial processes cannot be unilaterally (without any discussion) shifted by your employer or a press conference. Workers have strong rights thanks to your work and reforms won through campaigning in Queensland. As you know we have been finalising the drafting with the Department for the past few months.

How did this happen, and how do we fix it?

There was no consultation prior to this comment. If there is poor consultation about this or about the  many important crisis measures Covid-19 has brought to public sector workers then things will not go as well as they should. The professional and dedicated public servants are running the right response today and will continue to. But this could be better – we are calling for urgent and real consultation where that is not occurring – about service closures, about PPE, safety and the necessary changes to how work is performed during a pandemic.

For Queensland, responding to this crisis requires a strong public sector, and the anti-worker media commentary has to stop. So Together have demanded direct intervention and serious commitments to consultation, discussion and support for the public sector. Together is calling for an accord that covers the public sector response to the pandemic that includes:

  • The definition of vulnerable worker
  • How to we ensure services continue to be delivered during the pandemic
  • What rights workers have and need while working from home
  • What rights workers have and need when redeployed between departments
  • What public services look like after the pandemic

Show your support for you and your colleagues by changing your profile picture on Facebook! You can find the profile frame at the top of our newsfeed here.

At anytime if you have any questions about your rights and entitlements please contact your union office – we are here for you!

1800 177 244
members@together.org.au