Hundreds to descend on Auburn in protest over council outsourcing





Hundreds will protest outside Auburn Civic Centre this afternoon as Cumberland Council Administrator Viv May prepares to announce his decision on whether to outsource council waste services at tonight’s council meeting.

United Services Union (USU) Metropolitan Manager Steve Donley, the union which represents council workers, said Mr May was hell bent on bringing in private companies to take over the council’s waste services.

“Tonight, as Mr May presides as judge, jury, and executioner, we fear he will take a disastrous step towards locking the council and local ratepayers into an expensive, inflexible, long-term contract while denying the community a voice on service delivery,” Mr Donley said.

“It is possible to retain an in-house service that provides a comparable level of service while retaining quality jobs for local residents, with the union already identifying ways to increase productivity by more than 20 per cent at no extra cost to the ratepayers.”

But Cumberland Council General Manager Malcolm Ryan said that having three separate approaches to waste services was “not an option”. Cumberland Council was formed in May from Auburn, Holroyd and parts of Parramatta Council.

“It is clear that there is a need to co-ordinate and streamline our waste services so there is uniformity across Cumberland that delivers a best practice, cost effective service for residents,” Mr Ryan said.

“In examining a new approach Council must consider how we can provide a service to residents that provides the best value for money to ratepayers and delivers high quality outcomes.”

Government News reported  in October that the review Mr May will partly base his decision on, the August 2016 Strategic Waste Options Briefing Paper, appears to lean heavily towards recommending outsourcing kerbside waste collection to the private sector.

The review argues that the council would achieve a 20 per cent reduction in costs through larger contracts and reduced operating costs.

It bases its conclusions on a market test analysis, which compares the cost of waste collection services provided by the former Holroyd and Auburn Councils, which were both in-house, and that of Woodville, a ward which used to be part of Parramatta Council and outsources its rubbish collection.

The report says the analysis “identifies a serious lack of competitiveness of the in-house services against a full contract domestic waste service” and compares the cost of bin-lifts in the different council area, putting Woodville at 95 cents per bin, Auburn at $1.13 and Holroyd at $1.39.

But the report also outlines some of the potential risks of outsourcing the council’s entire waste and recycling collection, including juggling different contract end dates and a three-year protection for staff after amalgamation, and notes that the council could also get flak by outsourcing.

Council estimates suggest that it could cost up to $1.1 million to make 17 full-time waste services staff redundant or pay transfer payments to a contractor, plus paying out long service and annual leave entitlements.

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