Westmead Car Parking disputation and WSLHD Car Parking Policy

28-Apr-2017

 




(1) WESTMEAD CAR PARKING


Background
The Westmead car parking matter resulted in a disputation in the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW (‘IRC’/’Commission’) in December of last year because Westmead Hospital (the ‘Hospital’) had proposed an increase to staff parking fees without proper consultation. The issue affectsl a number of health unions and their respective members. The dispute was initially heard in the IRC last year before Commissioner Tabbaa.

ASMOF had been consulting with our members working at Westmead Hospital. Whilst the majority of our members were not against the increased in parking fees per se, they were against the fees being increased without appropriate measures in place to assure them that they could find a parking spot at the hospital. Thus, the general consensus from the feedback received was that the proposed increase would be justified only if the Hospital could ‘guarantee’ parking to paying staff and demonstrate how this could be done. ASMOF advocated that the Hospital ought to sufficiently demonstrate how it could guarantee parking for paying staff before the new fees are introduced. This of course was met with great opposition by the Respondent (being Western Sydney Local Health District), who pressed the Commission that the operative date for the fee increase should be 23 January 2017, regardless. However, with Commissioner Tabbaa’s encouragement, the Respondent agreed to a set of agreed measures.

Consequently Commissioner Tabbaa handed down a number of Recommendations, these being as follows:

IRC Recommendations
  • An audited trial period of the car parking arrangements commencing on 9 January 2017 up to 20 February 2017.
  • Assisted-valet parking will be introduced to staff parking areas.
  • The Car Parking Consultative Committee (made up of representatives from the Hospital and the Unions) is to meet weekly from the week commencing 9 January 2017. The purpose of the Consultative Committee meetings is to review and discuss:
    1. Audit on car park utilisation (including vacant spaces) with audits to be conducted at 9.15am, 12.15pm and 3.15pm Monday to Friday; and
    2. Any feedback received in regards to car park management.
  • All parties are to participate in this trial in good faith and adhere to the agreed terms of reference which will be established for this consultative process.
  • It is understood that during the trial period, the Hospital must implement the parking arrangements, including the introduction of the valet service at the hospital, and address issues raised by paying staff when they cannot find a parking spot.
  • Following the above, the Respondent will then increase the car parking fees to $15.00 per week for all full-time employees and $9.00 per week for all part-time staff as a pre-payroll deduction, effective from Monday, 6 March 2017.

Important to Note: as the disputation is under a conciliation conference and the Recommendations are not binding orders, if we do not accept the above, the Respondent had indicated to the Commission that it reserves its rights to increase the fees earlier. ASMOF encouraged Westmead members to accept the Recommendations that were set down by Commissioner Tabbaa.

Whilst we were not able to push back the date of the fee increases further than March, the outcome achieved (from the Commissioner’s Recommendations) is a good result from this disputation and considering that the proposed increases were going to come into effect without proper consultation and without any tangible commitment by the Hospital to guarantee a parking spot for paying staff.

Progress Report
A Report Back in the IRC occurred on 24th February 2017. The outcomes were:
  • It was reported that whilst the Hospital is implementing measures to accommodate additional parking spaces – while the construction of the multistorey car parking is underway – including setting up signage to manage traffic flow and congestion issues resulting from the precinct redevelopment, the Hospital acknowledged that there are teething problems which needed to be addressed and resolved.
  • The Hospital will continue conducting the weekly parking audits – amongst other things, these audits will help identify where available spaces are located.
  • The Hospital and the Unions will continue to meet on a regular basis to raise and discuss on-going parking issues. The audits will also be presented at these meetings.
  • There is currently an inconsistency of parking policies amongst the facilities (Westmead, Blacktown and Auburn, for example) within the WSLHD. For example, the descriptions relating to “part-time working hours” for the purpose of part-time parking charges. Other inconsistencies were also raised and discussed during the Report Back, including the various parking rates charged by the hospitals within the WSLHD.
  • Due to these inconsistencies across the facilities at WSLHD, the Unions sought the continuation of the Commission’s oversight and assistance in helping to resolve the issues. We advocate that there should be consistency and parity across the LHD.
  • The Commission agreed to provide its assistance and resources to parties to resolve these issues in the matter.

(2) WSLHD CAR PARKING POLICY


As there are policy inconsistencies (highlighted above) and the Commission has agreed to continue providing its resources and assistance, the matter has been allocated to Commissioner Newall to assist the parties in a Cooperative Employees Relations (‘CER’) process.

Initial discussions facilitated by Commissioner Newell took place at the first CER meeting and this was held on 27th March 2017. A number of representatives from the Unions and the LHD were present, including workplace delegates. Dr Eleanor Hitchen, a Registrar and a member attended the meeting with ASMOF. ASMOF wishes to take this opportunity to thank Dr Hitchen for her time and dedication to this meeting.

The following issues remain for discussion and consultation:
  • Defining part-time employees for the purposes of fees structure
  • Working at multiple sites (access and fees payable)
  • Suspension of car parking fees whilst on leave
  • Cancellation of car parking fees
  • Waitlist management

A further CER meeting has been scheduled to take place on Friday, 5th May 2017. Commission Newell will again be assisting the parties in these discussions.