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Security of tenure comes to contractors

By johnboy - 2 July 2010 12

The Canberra Times has a bit on the strange doings at the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations yesterday when IT contractors were given the chop their high contracting salaries compensate for, only to then be offered the same sort of relocation a full time public servant gets:

But the department’s secretary, Lisa Paul, has taken the rare step of publicly apologising to the 51 contractors.

It is understood she was furious at how her department had treated the workers, and was unaware of their situation until Wednesday.

”I apologise for the way this has been handled,” Ms Paul said.

”I am committed to ensuring the department looks after its valued staff as we continue to work through budget reductions.”

No point not switching to contract now!

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12 Responses to
Security of tenure comes to contractors
steveu 12:10 pm 03 Jul 10

The rumour was that a certain SES B2 had a list of contractors, in priority order – that she thought they could get rid of. It was allegedly a simple a list of names, and they sacked the top 50…not realising that in some circumstances whole teams/functions were included in this list – and didnt realise this until after the event.

realityskin 9:59 am 03 Jul 10

Well the story is bullshit.

What happened is the contractors contracting company was removed from the panel and they didn’t tell their contractors. It took a few days to sort the mess out and for the contractors to jump into another panel approved agency.

nhand42 7:07 pm 02 Jul 10

Sure, become a contractor, then you’ve just got to pay for your own sick leave, superannuation, training, equipment (e.g. mobiles, laptops), worker’s compensation, public holidays, annual holidays, long service leave, leave loading, public indemnity, and public liability.

Also you have to listen to the public servants whining incessantly about how much less they’re paid than the contractors. Actually, I kind of enjoy that bit.

Erg0 2:12 pm 02 Jul 10

54-11 said :

Yes, Erg0, they do get paid a premium (often a very large one) as compensation for not having the same terms and conditions, including tenure, as APS staff.

However, employers still need to treat their staff, whether casual, contract or permanent, with respect. That’s what failed here.

I won’t argue with the principle that everyone deserves respect, but a contractor needs to be pragmatic and realise that they’re far more susceptible to management bastardry than a true employee. To be clear, I’ve contracted for many years myself and have never been under the illusion that I should expect any kind of consideration from my “employer” if push came to shove and the budget needed to be cut.

Then again, the first few organisations that I worked for had a very clear separation between the real employees and we contractor scum (e.g. ignoring OH&S guidelines when it came to non-employees), which probably helped me to form this view pretty quickly. Things are obviously a bit different in some government departments, where contractors routinely stick around in the same job for years and become pseudo-employees – it’s no wonder that a higher expectation of job security exists here.

Definitely a lack of class and common sense shown by DEEWR here, though. They should leave the diabolical plotting to the pros – maybe bring in a consultant to handle it next time.

la mente torbida 1:47 pm 02 Jul 10

@bd84

my contract says 2 weeks (from the department) or 4 weeks (from me) … as I said previously, if you haven’t got an offer 4 weeks out from expiry, look elsewhere

bd84 1:18 pm 02 Jul 10

la mente torbida said :

as a contractor….june 29 and no renewal notification…what do you expect?

Im most cases, the employer is still required to give adequate notification of their intention not to renew a contract, particularly if the employee’s contract is normally automatically renewed.

videodrome 12:56 pm 02 Jul 10

I think people should be paid according to their skills regardless of their ongoing status. The problem here is the way the department implemented the Gershon report. Rather than applying the suggested IT pay scale scheme they just went for the 50% reduction. This is just a phony target anyway as the dramatic reduction in staff might achieve a saving intitally but just leaves a big expensive mess for everyone else to clean up. A bad policy poorly implemented doesnt mean you have to act like a bastard doing it.

54-11 12:35 pm 02 Jul 10

Yes, Erg0, they do get paid a premium (often a very large one) as compensation for not having the same terms and conditions, including tenure, as APS staff.

However, employers still need to treat their staff, whether casual, contract or permanent, with respect. That’s what failed here.

la mente torbida 12:26 pm 02 Jul 10

as a contractor….june 29 and no renewal notification…what do you expect?

georgesgenitals 12:19 pm 02 Jul 10

Typical government balls-up, although as a contractor you have to expect this.

Erg0 11:26 am 02 Jul 10

Interesting. I’d always considered higher contractor wages to be partially justified by the fact that a Department actually has the ability to actually get rid of them if they’re no longer required (or just crap). I’m guessing that this was just a case of not renewing expiring contracts, but it would be interesting to know when the decision was made – presumably a little earlier than June 29. I doubt they’d be having this trouble if the whole thing had been handled a little better, though.

JessP 11:10 am 02 Jul 10

Oh course they care and they apologised.

They got caught out. It was in the Canberra Times and reported in other media. People drew the line between their actions and the ‘WR’ bit of DEEWR. Embarrassing.

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