The Wellington community will receive a vital boost to employment and services as a result of legal action by the union representing local government workers, with Dubbo Regional Council agreeing to restore local employment numbers to pre-merger levels.
The United Services Union launched the action in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission after council management claimed that Wellington was not a “rural centre” under the Local Government Act.
Under the Act, only towns with a population below 5,000 people are considered rural centres, with council management claiming that figure was exceeded once the occupants of the Wellington Correctional Centre were included.
The Office of Local Government intervened during the legal proceedings, providing written advice to Dubbo Regional Council that Wellington was indeed a rural centre under the Act.
Management at the council, which was formed following the forced merger of the City of Dubbo and Wellington Council in May last year, this week made an undertaking before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission that it will deem Wellington a rural centre and return the core employment numbers to the level they were immediately before the amalgamation took place.
United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly said the outcome was a significant victory for the Wellington community.
“One of the greatest fears workers and community members had following this merger was that local jobs would be lost from the Wellington community, hurting the economy and leading to reduced services,” Mr Kelly said.
“As a result of the efforts of union members at Wellington and our legal team in Sydney we have achieved a significant victory that will see job numbers not only restored to pre-merger levels, but guaranteed into the future.
“Small regional communities are incredibly vulnerable to the economic impact of job losses, making the significance of this win like this all the more significant.”
Mr Kelly said the decision demonstrated the importance of strong collective action.
“Local government workers in Wellington understand the significant community service they provide, which is why they bravely worked together to challenge this management decision,” he said.
“The community owes them a debt of gratitude for their personal efforts to ensure the NSW Government’s merger process didn’t result in Wellington being stripped of jobs and services.”