Twenty-one months after the forced amalgamation of the Gloucester, Greater Taree and Great Lakes councils there has been a lot of movement in the former shire offices, namely Gloucester’s.
Pre-merger the Gloucester Shire Office employed 26.8 full time equivalent (FTE) office staff and as at February 2018, there are 19.3 FTE.
So where have all the of staff gone?
After the merger announcement in May 2016, former MidCoast Council general manager, Glenn Handford said with the exception of senior staff and staff members with expiring contracts, council staff at Gloucester were protected.
He explained how the job protection was a legislative requirement because Gloucester has under 5000 residents and that the NSW Government was very specific about ensuring staff retain their jobs.
Council explained that under the Local Government Act (section 218CA) it’s required to maintain 80.35 FTE staff across the entire workforce at Gloucester “as far as reasonably practical. It’s important to note that this maintenance applies to the number of staff not the individual employee or the type of duties they provide.”
This means if an employee resigns from Gloucester – or moves elsewhere - there is no requirement to replace that position but there is a requirement for a position or positions of equivalent hours be added if it’s “reasonably practicable.”
Council has just completed a recruitment process to ensure numbers at Gloucester remain at the required level. Currently numbers are 1.05 FTE down on the pre-merger Gloucester staff numbers.
“Nine new staff members have recently been appointed to Gloucester, and once they are settled in, management will investigate if it is practical to add another position into Gloucester,” council said.
So where have the office positions have shifted to?
There has been an increase in the outdoor staff positions; staff who work on road, building and landscape maintenance. “As per the requirement to maintain overall staff numbers, who are providing valuable on ground work for the community of Gloucester.”