Shire staff kept on ‘to help community’

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MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire staff have reportedly been spared the full impact of redundancy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Corporate services director Mark Brady said none of the shire’s 1200 staff had been affected and there had been “no formal stand downs”.

The mayor Cr Sam Hearn said: “We have made a strong commitment to share the pain. Our staff are mostly local people and keeping them on is beneficial to our community.”

However, staff in neighbouring municipalities have not been so fortunate – some having been laid off without assistance.

Liberal Senator for Victoria David Van said he had been “approached over the past few weeks by council employees who find themselves out of a job due to COVID-19 and have not been redeployed by their employing councils”.

“While I was pleased to see the Victorian government take responsibility for casual public sector employees through the jobs and skills exchange program, I was disappointed that they chose not to extend this support to employees of local councils and their subsidiaries.”

Senator Van said council employees who lost their jobs were being supported by the federal government’s JobSeeker payment and coronavirus supplement, but were “ignored by the Andrews’ government”.

“For example, nearly 300 employees at Frankston’s Peninsula Aquatic and Recreation Centre have been stood down and neither the council nor the state government are supporting them,” he said.

Senator Van said the national cabinet had agreed on 3 April that “state governments are responsible for helping local councils manage the impact of COVID-19”.

“As such I call upon the Victorian government … to support the Victorian local council employees who they are currently leaving behind.”

Cr Hearn said he lamented that “one of the big gaps in local government” was that it could not take advantage of the federal JobKeeper program or any state government financial packages.

“They have excluded local government and there is no mechanism to support council staff,” he said.

First published in the Mornington News – 12 May 2020

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