A union representing public servants has made a formal plea to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) in an effort to clarify the government’s plans for shared services agency Businesslink.
The IRC has confirmed with iTnews that private hearings were held between the Public Service Association of NSW (PSA) and the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) on July 18 and that “some progress is being made” towards resolving the concerns of PSA members.
The IRC has granted the PSA leave to reconvene the hearings in the future.
The PSA filed a dispute with the commission after The Australian published details of a letter purportedly written by Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward, asking then Director General Jim Moore to put together a transition plan for the dissolution of Businesslink.
Goward’s office has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the letter, saying only that a review is currently underway that will inform the long-term future of the business unit.
A spokesman for the Minister told iTnews his process was ongoing and the department is consulting with staff and the PSA.
The PSA’s industrial officer attached to Businesslink, Julie-Ann Bond, told iTnews department representatives indicated that the review could be completed in a couple of months.
The PSA took the matter to the Commission to give the 650 to 700 staff remaining at Businesslink some much-needed certainty about their future employment, she said.
“Our members just want to know what is going to happen either way, be the news good bad or indifferent. They don’t want to be in limbo anymore.
“Call me cynical, but I have been around the public sector for a long time and a review nearly always means a restructure and a restructure means the loss of positions.”
The PSA is looking for a commitment from the department that if any Businesslink staff do lose their jobs. they will be transferred to alternative positions under the same FACS umbrella.
Businesslink is the government-owned provider of corporate services such as ICT, human resources and payroll to all of the FACS cluster agencies and NSW Juvenile Justice. It employed 742 staff and 123 contractors at the end of June 2012.
As of next week a new Director-General will assume responsibility for the whole department, following the resignation of Jim Moore who was recently charged with domestic violence offences.
Michael Coutts-Trotter, formerly of the Department of Finance and Services, has been named as his replacement.