Jul 2, 2010

DEEWR and its contractors — worst-practice workplace relations in action

The secretary of Julia Gillard's former department has called DEEWR's treatment of IT contractors "unacceptable", writes an anonymous tipster.

Simon Crean, as new Workplace Relations Minister, might like to be made aware of a perfect example of everything that can be wrong with workplace management. It’s close to his own workplace at Parliament House. In fact, it’s walking distance from Canberra Airport, so there’s really no excuse.

He might even recognise the organisation’s name as he walks up to the doors. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).

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5 thoughts on “DEEWR and its contractors — worst-practice workplace relations in action

  1. Nelson

    DEEWR is not unique in treatment of IT contractors, in fact it’s pretty common in corporate sector that renewals/cancellations are left to the last minute. I’ve been in IT for twenty years in NZ, Aust’ and UK, it’s the same in these places; IT contractors know that we’re at the mercy of the headcount limits and budgets of our employers. Contractors are always the first to be booted out when push comes to shove. In most cases we get paid more than the equivalent permanent staff. We can kid ourselves that this is entirely because we’re better professionals however we all tacitly know that part of this payment premium is because we’re more disposable resources. Yeah it’s not very nice to be treated this way and maybe it’s not right but shouldn’t be surprised when it happens.

  2. Delerious

    I’ve been a contractor in the IT industry for nearly 17 years and even tho’ I’m sorry for the contractors at DEEWR they broke the first commandment of being a contractor: Me, Me, Me. There is no We in Me.

    Basically you are contracted to an organisation you aren’t permanent. Your loyalty to the organisation is from the beginning of the contract to the date it ends. If you think it means more then this then become permanent. Its why we get paid more. We take greater risks and can’t claim time for free drinkies on Friday.

    I avoid working for government bodies for extended periods because 1. you are around “permanent” contractors ie people whose skills become questionable the longer they are there and 2. government pay squat and make more demands.

  3. Tom Jones

    Of course the toxic atmosphere in DEEWR is well known among staff and there are far more expendable staff about to see the door. The very low standards of workplace satisfaction can be seen in staff turnover, absenteeism and the low standards set in the annual staff survey which is barely mentioned in the Annual Report.

    Many staff are being victimised and bullied but the department has no bullying policy in place and no methods to deal with managers who stand over staff to meet the performance standards. Internal committees where issues are raised are routinely ignored or promised reports which never appear or are a whitewash.

    The main problems stem from the takeover of the education and childcare departments by the DEWR HR department that introduced Workchoices in that department. The HR department should have been cleaned out root and branch for the way it treated staff in DEWR but it continues with policies that come from the dark ages in the newer DEEWR.

    Lisa Paul has allowed HR practices which only seem to matter when they get media attention. She has ignored or persecuted staff who have tried to point out the many unfair practices which exist in this toxic department as a legacy of Workchoices. The IT crowd are just the latest in a long line of staff who have suffered at the hands of the HR branch whose bosses will almost certainly be rewarded rather than be given the sacking that they deserve for their abysmal treatment of honest workers.

  4. Tom Jones

    Is it worth mentioning that since DEEWR was formed the only training of significance was for senior managers to go on a soirees while all that non SES staff can expect is a telecon explaining new procedures while the IT Contractors have been expected to pick up the pieces? The lack of investment in training reflects very poorly on the department which is encouraging other employers to invest in their staff training programs.

  5. blow me down

    “And for all this, a faceless bureaucrat will probably be rewarded for meeting targets in cost savings.”

    That faceless bureaucrat has indeed been rewarded. She (I’m not talking about Lisa Paul) has the full support of her superiors and sycophants. This became blatantly obvious yesterday when the Deputy Secretary called a meeting of branch managers and directors, and blame was laid wholly at their feet. Faceless Bureaucrat, the woman who royally screwed everything, was lauded. This woman ignored input and advice from her deputies, made unilateral decisions without consultation or communication, demonstrated the most appalling lack of leadership qualities, and is now getting away with blaming it all on those beneath her.

    DEEWR’s website names one the department’s goals as: “To increase workforce participation and promote fair and productive work practices.”

    Perhaps those in the upper echelons of the department should learn to lead by example. Until this happens and those who screwed the pooch are made accountable, nobody with half a brain will ever want to work for DEEWR.

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