Jobs in local government authorities appear to be falling through both the federal and state government support packages.
The Australian Services Union says more than 200 local government employees have been stood down, with fears this number will grow over the coming weeks.
Australian Services Union Tasmanian Coordinator Aaron De La Torre said the Gutwein government was the last hope for local government workers stood-down without any income support.
“So far in Tasmania, workers in many areas of council operations have been affected with the most stand-downs in leisure and aquatic centres, tourism and travel centres, as well as community and economic development.”
Unlike workers in most industries who have access to the Federal Government’s $1,500 per fortnight JobKeeper wage supplement, local government workers can be left without any income. A stood-down local government worker is also ineligible for JobSeeker payments if their partner earns more than $79,762.
“This is seeing Tasmanian families who rely on two incomes see an entire income disappear from their weekly budget,” De La Torre said.
Their plea appears to be falling on deaf ears, with the ASU confirming to Tasmanian Times on Friday that Minister for Local Government Mark Shelton was non-committal on any support for employees in the sector as (the government’s resources) were stretched as far as they could.
“The state government has expressed its expectation to the local government sector that councils should retain as many employees as possible during this challenging period,” said Minister Shelton.
“To support councils to do this, the government has waived payroll tax for eligible councils, ensured service and utility fee relief is provided, and established a $150 million no interest loan scheme. This means councils can keep investing in projects to provide employment opportunities for Tasmanians and also to support operational measures taken in response to, or as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.”
“The Local Government Association of Tasmania, as with other State Local Government Associations advocated strongly for JobKeeper to apply to affected Local Government Business Units,” said LGAT President Christina Holmdahl. A copy of their letter can be found on the LGAT website.
“Unfortunately some Councils have had to let some staff go, primarily casual workers from facilities which have had to close under public health orders.”
De La Torre pointed out that in many regional communities, the local council is one of the largest employers. “The loss of jobs in these communities is devastating for the whole local economy,” he said.
The sudden storm for Tasmanian councils has been the necessity to offer rate relief at the same time as the closure of various fee charging services. “There are now a number of examples of state governments across the country stepping in to provide support to workers who have been excluded from the Federal JobKeeper scheme,” De La Torre said.