Another triumph of outsourcing

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BY PHIL SHANNON

CANBERRA — Payroll services, including the production and delivery of fortnightly payslips, for staff in the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care have been outsourced during the previous year to a private company. In another triumph of outsourcing, the payslips for the last pay period were reported as lost on September 26.

Department management sent out a message to the 3000 staff in the department informing them of this and stating that replacement payslips would be produced.

The all-staff email facility in the department was promptly inundated with outraged messages from staff complaining about the serious breach of privacy and the threat posed by release of personal banking and other financial institution details.

An advisor to federal health minister Michael Wooldridge also waded into the email flood with the following message: "We're not in caretaker period yet. If you have time to think up this rubbish maybe we should outsource all of you. You would probably leak that wouldn't you."

With budget reductions rising to $6 million a year, and 850 staff in the frame for outsourcing (for the provision of corporate support services such as property management, legal services, human resources management and office services), this email from minders was regarded by department staff as highly offensive.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has demanded an apology and has also sought guarantees on procedures to be adopted to ensure that loss of personal information does not occur again.

The missing payslips were found on payday, September 27, after the CPSU reminded department management that failure to provide a payslip within 24 hours of payment is a breach of the Workplace Relations Act and could leave the department liable to a fine of $1000 per case.

[Phil Shannon is a CPSU workplace delegate in the Department of Health and Aged Care.]

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