ATO opens Gosford office with NDIA, union fears thin end of the ‘hot desking’ wedge

By Stephen Easton

Friday April 27, 2018

Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer has opened a new Australian Taxation Office outpost in Gosford, New South Wales, seen by the union as a key battleground where its fight against “hot desking” will be won or lost.

O’Dywer said the new ATO regional office already had 300 staff, the majority of whom come from the surrounding Central Coast region, and would expand to about double that size over the next year. It is co-located in new building with a small team of about 40 staff from the National Disability Insurance Agency.

The Australian Services Union’s tax officers’ branch has strongly opposed the introduction of hot desking at the Gosford site, and is currently appealing a decision by the Fair Work Commission which went in the agency’s favour last December.

The union believed this kind of activity-based office setup was only allowed under the ATO enterprise bargaining agreement for staff members who do a lot of field work, but the FWC disagreed.

The local federal member, Lucy Wicks, said the construction of the office for the two agencies had created a significant number of new opportunities for local tertiary education graduates.

According to O’Dywer, “A variety of functions are already being performed at the Gosford office including customer service and advice, dispute resolution and various corporate functions.”

“The ATO’s diverse workforce of ongoing, non-ongoing, full-time, part-time and casual roles means that we expect there will be ongoing opportunities for locals across a variety of skill sets.”

The ASU sees hot desking as “a very important issue for all ATO staff” and would prefer the agency to negotiate any expansion via the next enterprise bargaining process, according to a January 31 bulletin.

“There are many ATO buildings around the country whose lease is coming to an end,” says the ASU. “It is clear that the Gosford ‘experiment’ will determine how the ATO will implement hot desking in the new buildings or buildings that will undergo a ‘refresh’.

“If these proceedings do not stop this approach, the next candidates for hot desking will be the replacement buildings for those offices whose lease expires in 2020: Moonee Ponds, Chermside, Upper Mount Gravatt and Townsville. Other offices would follow in due course.”

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