During the first half of the review period, the Departmental Consultative Council continued its important role as the Departments peak representative body for open consultation on issues of interest to staff. Under the terms of the Certified Agreement, certified on 14 January, a Workplace Relations Committee replaced the DCC as the chief consultative body for all activities involving the Departments employees and their conditions of employment. The WRC provides a forum to improve the quality of the Departments work environment and address matters of concern, including those arising from implementing the Certified Agreement. The WRC enhances the Departments cooperative and consultative management approach.
Membership spans a wide cross-section, with the committee comprising 11 employee representatives (one each from the three unions and the Foreign Affairs and Trade Association, two from each of the three broadbands and one from the SES) and an equal number of management representatives. FATA and union employee members nominate and elect their representatives; staff elect other employee representatives.
Either the Deputy Secretary responsible for Corporate Management Division or the First Assistant Secretary of CMD chairs the committee as the Secretarys nominee. The committee will meet at least three times each year but committee members can request additional meetings. The committee first met in March and will meet early next review period. It is supported by a WRC Secretariat, located in the Management Strategy and Coordination Section of Corporate Management Division.
The WRC has two sub-committees, an Occupational Health and Safety sub-committee and a Human Resources sub-committee. The latters agenda includes considering a strategic plan for people management, a human resources manual and a training and development strategy. Both sub-committees are due to meet early next review period.
Many staff actively participated in negotiating the proposed AusAID Certified Agreement between staff representatives and management during late 1997 and early 1998. The proposed agreement is expected to be implemented early in the next review period.
AusAID developed and issued a new employee participation policy in May. The policy provided a formal framework for participative decision making, consultation and information sharing. The policy recognises that employee participation is essential in developing effective changes in the organisation of work and is integral to dealing with industrial relations issues, such as staff development and training, occupational health and safety and technological change.
Under the policy, consultation takes place at a range of levels from section and branch meetings and individual performance planning and review mechanisms to more formal settings through the National Liaison Group and the Consultative Council.
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