Cuts to WA Department of Justice will destabilise service delivery, union warns

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday August 19, 2021

The CPSU/CSA said the WA Department of Justice failed to comply with its legal obligations after announcing a round of job cuts without consulting staff.
The CPSU/CSA said the WA Department of Justice failed to comply with its legal obligations after announcing a round of job cuts without consulting staff.. (Supreme Court of Western Australia; dudlajzov/Adobe)

The union representing public sector employees in Western Australia has accused the state Department of Justice of failing to comply with its legal obligations after announcing a round of job cuts without consulting staff.

The Department of Justice told staff on Monday evening that it intended to implement a Voluntary Targeted Severance Scheme, and suspended its call for expressions of interest in severances the following day.

The CPSU/CSA said the department had breached its obligations under the industrial agreement for public sector workers by failing to consult with the union and staff.

“Consultation is a fundamental right that members have fought for and will continue to fight to uphold. This is clearly a short-sighted, rushed, and ill-advised approach to reducing their bottom-line,” the union said.

While the union does not yet know how many positions are expected to be cut, and what the delivery and savings costs will be, it has argued that the severance scheme would not provide benefits to the public.

“It is an expensive and unproductive process that rarely achieves its desired outcomes. It rarely, if ever, takes into account essential planning to ensure that services to the community are not undermined, destabilised or lost completely,” it said.

“In many cases we see a significant loss of departmental knowledge, best-practices and cross sector understanding. Often, it is positions that are critical to the functioning of the department that go, leaving gaping holes of information and major impacts on service delivery.”

In a recent survey of public sector workers conducted by the CPSU/CSA, half of respondents said issues at their department were impacting service delivery, with 88% of those respondents naming job vacancies and insufficient staffing as the cause of these issues.

The announcement of the severance scheme has emphasised the WA government’s ‘chronic underinvestment’ in public sector services, the union said.

“With the state running a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus and the demand for public services continuing to increase, the government needs to be keeping up with community need, not cutting jobs and destabilising service delivery,” it said.

Earlier this month the state government announced that the WA public sector commissioner would review some of the factors that have been preventing the state’s prisons from running efficiently, including employment and industrial frameworks, workforce management practices, and culture.

The Department of Justice has also been reviewing the design of the prison network, the resourcing needs and performance of each prison, and staffing and operations.


Read more: WA public sector commissioner called in to review prison system


 

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