Colanda protests escalate

Colanda staff have voted to escalate their campaign calling on the State Government to agree to fairly compensate staff ahead of the centre’s planned closure.

Health and Community Services Union representatives have met with government officials to discuss the proposed compensation plan for staff before Colanda closes by mid-2019.

But staff voted on March 7 to reject the government’s offer, accusing the Department of Health and Human Services of ignoring “every component of compensation” the staff had asked for.

Colanda’s closure would affect 120 jobs and could force staff to move from the area.

HACSU spokeswoman Elizabeth Doidge said the union was “appalled with the response from government and DHHS”.

“They have only considered the process of the closure and not the real issues where people will be forced to move from Colac,” Ms Doidge said.

“The government response has been wholly inadequate and doesn’t consider compensation for those who will be forced to pack up their lives and leave Colac,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Housing, Disability and Ageing Minister Martin Foley said in response to the union’s concerns that “the government is still in negotiations with our industrial partners”.

A resolution from the union’s meeting with staff members said that staff believed the government and DHHS “is not interested in supporting staff to transition with residents to community group homes”.

Staff also believe the government’s support for Colanda workers was insulting when compared with previous deals for public servants such as Worksafe employees during the relocation from Melbourne to Geelong.

“The State Government’s approach is in stark contrast to that taken elsewhere with major restructuring events in manufacturing, energy and public service organisation,” the resolution said.

“We reject that disability support workers should be treated less equitably.”

Staff and union members decided to “escalate our industrial campaign” by not attending meetings, not providing information relating to the closure or client relocation and not participating in activities that facilitate the closure.

For the full story see today’s Colac Herald.

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