Members at CASA are concerned about their health and safety, and the long term safety of the industry after management pushed through changes in the structure of the organisation’s surveillance and operations areas.
Professionals Australia Health and Safety Entry Permit Holders visited CASA offices on 17 December after members raised serious safety concerns. On the same day, the union wrote to CASA requesting documents and outlining our serious safety concerns. CASA failed to provide the documents and the union again wrote to the organisation on the 22 December. In that correspondence the union advised CASA that we were seeking the assistance of the Comcare, the federal work health and safety regulator and also informing members of their rights to refuse to perform unsafe work, specifically identifying what we believed to be unsafe:
- Using the EAP software system; and
- Taking jobs (including providing advice) to guidance centre staff.
The union’s Health and Safety Entry Permit Holders were told that there is a lot of concern for the safety of the guidance team, as they are under incredible stress and do not have the skillset to do the role for which they have been placed.
Technical staff are also concerned that the halving of responsibilities and the pool based approach will lead to both inappropriate allocation of tasks and a loss of skillset over time, to the detriment of both technical staff and CASA.
Meetings with staff on Wednesday 13.1.2021 and Thursday 14.1.2021
Union members will be meeting on Wednesday and Thursday this week via Teams and Zoom to provide members an update, as well as to further discuss the issues and next steps.
It is essential that members both attend, and bring any colleagues who are not members, but concerned about these issues.
Wednesday 1pm (AEDT) via Teams
Wednesday 5pm (AEDT) via Zoom
Thursday 1pm (AEDT) via Zoom
Thursday 5pm (AEDT) via Teams
Union members cannot be discriminated for taking action to protect health and safety
Union members are reminded that they have every right, and in fact an obligation, to act in good faith to protect the health and safety of themselves and their colleagues. This includes refusing to perform or carry out work that is unsafe.
If you feel that you are being targeted, discriminated against, or otherwise have any action taken to your detriment because you have exercised rights under workplace safety laws, then contact your Professionals Australia organiser immediately.
Right to refuse to perform unsafe work
If you feel that you cannot perform a work task because of a safety risk, you should talk to your PA organiser, EPH and your CASA HSR as soon as possible. Union organisers and EPH can provide you with advice around how to proceed and ensure you are protected, while HSRs can and should take steps to ensure the workplace becomes safe again, including stopping work more broadly, or issuing a PIN.
Health and safety a union concern.
Members are reminded that health and safety is union business, the current suite of workplace laws can give the impression that safety is under control, but our recent experiences with the application of COVID health orders at CASA, the embarrassing debacle of the M4 Smart Motorway in Sydney, and workload concerns in SA Health all demonstrate that health and safety still needs union vigilance and action.
Professionals Australia has specialty trained organisers with experience in health and safety. Known as Health and Safety Entry Permit Holders (EPH), they undertake specialty training that provides them with additional powers to enter workplaces and conduct safety inspections.
Ask a colleague to join
It is now so important to have a strong union presence at CASA! The long slow erosion of capacity and skillset of the technical workforce continues! Union membership is the best way to ensure your conditions are fought for and protected.