Council is wasting money: Union

UNION officials have claimed the Gladstone Regional Council has been wasting ratepayers money on an independent consultant for the past two years.

A union official said the consultant, Sharpe Workplace Solutions (SWS), had originally been contracted to do reclassification of all employee’s jobs at the council in 2008.

They said union officials in town were now questioning why the independent consultant was still being paid by council and why there was need for the consultant to do human resources work when the council has a human resources department.

The Observer has obtained a tax invoice dated May 2009, outlining the consultant was paid $30,839.36 for a period of two weeks for the reclassification project including conducting meetings, on site staff interviews, communication and travel costs.

The union representative said the consultant attended a joint council/union meeting as recently as two and half weeks ago.

Council CEO Graeme Kanofski said the consultant was originally engaged to facilitate council’s Enterprise Bargaining discussions. “In fact, the consultant was contracted at the insistence of the unions,” he said. The council’s EB Agreement states “The parties have agreed that the process will be undertaken again using the services of Sharpe Workplace Solutions as the independent facilitator or otherwise as agreed by the parties.

The parties to this agreement recognise the enormity of undertaking such a process as such it is agreed that SWS will have a ‘nominal’ 12 month period from the date of certification to undertake this project.”

Mr Kanofski said the EB needed to be done following the amalgamation of the Calliope, Miriam Vale and Gladstone councils as each had different EBs and there were 750 employees that were affected. Council’s Acting Mayor, Gail Sellers, said council was not wasting money.

“It’s responsible expenditure that had to be done,” she said.

Council provided The Observer with a summary of projects undertaken as of September 27, 2010, with a total of $305,279.44 paid to Sharpe Workplace Solutions, including $220,358.78 for the reclassification project.

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