Media release: Splinter could save Local Council workers 

A newly proposed 12 month Splinter Award that will be made in the NSW Industrial relations Commission today is the first step towards protecting local council staff during the covid-19 pandemic. The Splinter Award sits alongside the existing Local Government Award and provides basic protections for council staff in the event they are stood down or redeployed during the pandemic.

There is an urgent need to provide a basic level of protection for the almost 60,000 local council staff across the state who currently can be stood down on zero pay and with no requirement for alternative duties to be found. The Splinter Award provides a bae level of $858 per week pay for up to three months for any council workers stood down during the pandemic.

Councils across NSW have until midday Tuesday 14 April to opt in to the award, before a hearing of the Industrial Relations Commission at 3:00pm today. That hearing will apply the Splinter Award to those councils that have agreed to it.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: 

“This ‘Splinter Award’ has been created by the Local Government Association and the USU and we’re calling on councils across NSW to sign up to protect their workers.

“There is a significant gap in the current award which doesn’t say how staff should be protected if they are stood down, it’s clear this was never considered a realistic possibility before the pandemic.

“Currently staff can be stood down on zero pay, but the Splinter Award provides that as a bare minimum any staff stood down must receive at least $838 per week for 3 months to get them through.

“This Splinter Award should only be seen as the basic minimum because the great majority of councils have the financial capacity to retain all their workforce, casual and permanent, on full pay throughout the crisis.

“Local Councils should lead the way by giving a job guarantee for all their workforce with a plan to retain and redeploy all staff including casuals with pay at full rate.

“Councils aren’t entitled to Job Keeper payments for staff and they haven’t received any other financial support to date despite taking a hit on revenues and the continued impact of the bushfires across much of NSW.

“There is a clear need for state and federal financial assistance, especially to smaller regional councils that have been struck by both the fires and the pandemic. This will help them keep staff on the books and services flowing to their communities.

“The 3 month protection in the Splinter Award is a start, but only a start, on the much bigger task of protecting local council workers and services during the pandemic,” Mr Shoebridge said