Industrial Relations Commission backs Council COVID-19 measures

Published on 02 July 2020


The Industrial Relations Commission has supported Council's efforts to safeguard staff and the community from COVID-19 after a challenge from the United Services Union (USU) today.

Council currently requests that upon returning from travel, employees provide the postcode of the destination in which they spent the most time, thereby allowing Council to assess if the staff member has visited a COVID-19 hot-spot.

The USU contended that the measure was an invasion of workers' privacy, but their protest was not upheld at a Commission hearing earlier today.

Mayor Darriea Turley AM said the outcome vindicated Council's stance on COVID-19, which prioritises the safety of the community and Council workers during the pandemic.

"We currently have a Coronavirus-free workplace and city, and we have a responsibility to the community to act within our powers to try and keep things that way," she said.

"Management believed from the outset that it was perfectly reasonable and sensible to request basic travel information from staff, and we're pleased there’s been strong support from the Commission on this matter.

“I have to provide far more personal details when simply visiting a restaurant or bar for example, so it’s great to see common sense prevail on the issue of travel.”

Mayor Turley shrugged off any suggestion that Councillors were not supporting workers by backing the travel policy.

"I am completely comfortable and steadfast when it comes to my Union and Labor values, but the health and safety of staff and the community must take precedence over politics," she said.

"Council is only requesting the most basic level of information from staff, and to my knowledge the majority of the workforce completely understands and supports this approach."

Councillor Maureen Clark said the Commission outcome was a welcome reminder to all Councillors to distance themselves from operational and staffing matters.

"We've all received training regarding our roles as Councillors, and I find it incredibly disappointing that some elected representatives have sought to politicise this issue and question the values of their fellow Councillors," said Cr Clark.

"All our workers are important and we want a healthy and safe workplace for them. That is the primary right of all workers, and one unions have fought for. Just look at the history of Broken Hill to see that.”