Nahan: Staff managed Canning for themselves

CanningAccountability image Feature Presentation

Local paper Canning Examiner hits hard this week with its comparison of the City of Canning’s bloated wage and staff structure compared with the councils that were due to absorb it under local government reform:-

  • City of Canning today is paying almost double the amount for employees it was in 2008-09
  • Employees earning over $100,000 near trebled
  • Canning’s wages cost before the next Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) due in January is $59m to administer to 98,000 people
  • Canning’s staff costs a third more than Gosnells (population 118K) and Melville (population 107K)

Mike Nahan, Member for Riverton, hits even harder:-

  • “The City has been allowed to be managed for the staff rather than the ratepayers”
  • “The City of Canning is the optimal size and was one of the best run councils in the state….but over the last number of years its just been poorly run at the cost of ratepayers”
  • “[The staff] increased their costs substantially during the [local govt reform debate]… I suspect they did that because they didn’t think they would have to be held accountable for it”
  • “Heads should roll, that’s [an option] open for the Commissioners”

Canning Examiner’s excellent articles are to be found here:-

Rate Rise Has Punch Part One

Rate Rise Has Punch Part Two:  “Stop using Canning as a punching bag”

Wages Bonanza for City of Canning

Canning CEO Lyn Russell’s excuses as to why this huge blowout in staff costs occurred seems wan in hindsight:- 

“….engaged an independent consultant to undertake a review of salaries….. review found Canning staff underpaid in comparison…..current EBA ensures Canning is a competitive employer capable of retaining highly skilled staff….the increase is a reflection in employee costs across the state and the nation (that’s new – CanningAccountability)”.

And flies in the face of a few facts that actually do matter:

  • Staff were ensured outstanding redundancy provisions under the Act, in the event of Canning being “ceased”, ie two years’ employment from then reform D Day 1 July 2015
  • We understand wage equalisation would have occurred had any employee from one local govt been employed by another, as part of the reform
  • If, as Dr Nahan says in above articles, Canning’s wages were roughly the same as Gosnells and Melville originally then Canning’s lifting of wages would have forced up the cost of reform, with other councils then having to match that
  • Canning’s staff were each offered $1000 TAFE Vouchers, ostensibly to help them prepare for reform.  This was in addition to the large amount of training that had been progressively going on at Canning, the study leave and financial assistance already available (as well as “merit pay” increases between pay rises), according to the EBA.  This was not required under reform and increased the cost burden on ratepayers
  • The Mayor and Councillors control the supply of money, but don’t set staff wages.  We understand pay rates are struck by Human Resources, union reps and executives and then taken to the CEO for approval
  • To our knowledge Canning has not yet included what the new EBA will cost in the budget for 2015/16, backdated to January 2016 as it will be.  When that is known it will mean Ms Russell must make the case for altering the budget, ie, dropping planned expenditure or using reserve funds perhaps, to fund the new wages’ accord.
  • And given police and other critical employment sectors in WA, as well as our state politicians, are exercising wage restraint, and that all staff received a 13.25% pay increase in the last EBA as well as many staff taking advantage of the $1000 TAFE Vouchers, it would be a show of recognition of the financial realities of Canning today for a CPI pay rise only to be endorsed.  We believe this has already happened with another council in Perth, and it would help Canning’s bottom line for the next two years.

Image produced by Dean Shareski and sourced on Flickr  Licence Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)