Council stirs union ire with e-procurement job ad

The Municipal Employees Union (MEU) has threatened to go to the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) if an e-procurement coordinator is appointed at a Sydney metropolitan council.

MEU acting industrial officer Caroline Moore said the dispute will be lodged with the IRC if Baulkham Hills Shire Council does not withdraw the "e-procurement/e-commerce" position which was advertised in the media last weekend.

"We are not opposed to the council's plans to implement an e-commerce strategy; our members support new technology but often personnel issues are overlooked in the process," Moore said.

"In this case the current IT administrator was advised his position would become redundant two days prior to the job being advertised and this person has spent four years implementing changes to facilitate the council's e-commerce strategy."

The council's corporate services director Dave Walker confirmed half a million dollars has been invested in back-end systems to facilitate e-procurement but stressed the IT strategy will not replace purchasing processes but provide another avenue.

"We recognise it's a cultural change that impacts on people and are aware of the need to address personnel issues not just technology; we don't want the strategy to go off track because the union thinks we haven't followed due process," Walker said.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) estimates that nationally about 50 per cent of councils are on the Internet and are making the transition to e-procurement.

"However, the process involves a great deal of human relations sensitivity as councils realise the issue is not restricted to technology; suitable training is essential but technology is driving organisations to import skills much more quickly," an ALGA spokesman said.

Each of the ALGA's state associations is developing an e-commerce strategy which follows the federal government's mandate to have all services online by the end of 2001 and to introduce a single Web site to access all three tiers of government.

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