EXCLUSIVE: A council worker has revealed a tale of disorganisation and late payments within Sydney’s Inner West Council, claiming “ever since the amalgamation it’s been a bit haphazard”. Yael Grunseit reports.
Over the last few weeks the likes of Foxtel, Subway, Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel and Victoria University have all been called out for the mass underpayment of employees. And who can forget Masterchef’s George Calombaris who grew rich after years of underpaying staff? But it’s not just big corporations and celebrity chefs cutting corners at the expense of everyday workers. Sydney’s own Inner West Council is seemingly the latest organisation to join the ranks of those embroiled in wage scandals.
The latest report has come directly to True Crime News Weekly from where all the best stories emanate – the streets. This time, it was left up to your average Aussie battler – a hardworking council worker – to lift the lid on a universe of underpayments.
In between replacing rubbish bins and completing other honest duties, the council worker described in some detail the council’s systematic mismanagement of payments.
“Super and wages are being paid as normal but they are always late on things like overtime,” he said.
“Some people rely on their overtime to make their mortgage or car repayments.”
True Crime News Weekly took these complaints straight to the Inner West Council, eager to hear what they had to say. At first we were met with the disappointing sound of voicemails until eventually receiving a written response from a council spokesperson.
“Delays [of payment] could possibly occur where there is an input error by a staff member or the staff member or their coordinator is absent from work. This is rare,” the spokesperson said.
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Council then put the onus back on workers, explaining that it is the workers responsibility to log their overtime by the end of the week.
“Staff are paid weekly on a Wednesday. Payments are made automatically through the payroll system. Employees must log any overtime the next working day or by the end of that working week to ensure being paid in a timely manner,” the spokesperson said.
According to the council worker who spoke with True Crime News Weekly it’s not just overtime and benefits that are being mismanaged though. The management of other crucial duties are similarly disorganised and it’s council workers bearing the brunt.
“It’s even things like delivering replacement bins to residents, only to get to someone’s place and find out that someone else with the council has made the delivery already,” he said.
When asked about this instance, an Inner West Council spokesperson said they were “not aware of this specific example so cannot comment”.
The Council claimed to True Crime News Weekly that “if an error was to occur, the impact on the staff member would be addressed as soon as practicable and steps taken to ensure the issue doesn’t recur”.
So, what’s happening with the amalgamation?
In 2016 Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville councils merged to create the Inner West Council. There’s been a push to have many groups of council merge across Sydney, with a proposed Eastern Suburbs amalgamation in late 2021 that is yet to be actioned.
At the Inner West local election on 4 December 2021, it was recorded that 62.5% of voters were in support of de-amalgamation. This vote was (perhaps unfortunately) non-binding.
In early February of this year at an Inner West Council meeting, staff voted unanimously to commence preparation for a de-amalgamation business case. This business case must be bought to the Minister for Local Government Wendy Tuckerman, who will ultimately decide whether de-amalgamation can begin. Council general manager Peter Gainsford said that a business case will likely be bought to a council meeting in June of this year.
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During a council meeting in early April of this year Independent councillor John Stamolis claimed that 70% of council workers were not in favour of de-amalgamation. This might be due to the expected effects of de-amalgamation which will likely include redundancies. It seems then that many council workers would prefer to be paid late than not paid at all. Despite this, the council’s general attitude is to act in accordance with the wishes of citizens and continue moving towards de-amalgamation.
The council have stated they are committed to involving community members in the de-amalgamation and plan to create a committee with members from Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville who will meet throughout the process.
For his part, the friendly Inner West Council worker who revealed the latest sad tale of alleged employee underpayments said it might be a case of bureaucrats having their bread buttered at the expense of ordinary workers.
“I’m sure everyone within the cosy confines of the council offices are being paid their overtime and other benefits on time,” he told True Crime News Weekly.
Feature Image: Inner West Council / Supplied
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