The Guardian March 26, 2003


Unions oppose privatisation of ACT service company

by Janice Hamilton

Unions are calling on the ACT Labor Government to honour its election 
commitments not to privatise government assets. The unions are particularly 
concerned about reports that the Government has decided to sell its service 
company Totalcare.

Totalcare repairs and maintains roads and bridges, erects road signs, 
provides non-medical health services (e.g. linen and sterilising services 
for public hospitals), offers fleet management for passenger and commercial 
vehicles, property management for the ACT Government and other 
organisations, preservation of monuments and other services.

It was corporatised by the previous Liberal Government in 1992.

Cabinet has already established a working party to examine the viability of 
selling the company.

The ACT Unions have asked the Government to widen the scope of the review 
to consider other options for its future.

According to a statement received by "The Guardian", Chief Minister Jon 
Stanhope said there was no breach to the party's platform, "which while 
opposed to privatisation recognises that in some circumstances it is an 
appropriate course of action.

"Significantly, the platform acknowledges that privatisation has to be 
considered if government businesses are not undertaking core government 
functions, or if they are a drain on the government purse

"Totalcare workers have for years being faced uncertainty about their 
future largely caused by the poor management decisions of the previous 
Liberal Government", said Mr Malone.

Totalcare has already undertaken significant restructuring in readiness for 
privatisation. It has paid out more than $1.5 million in redundancy costs 
in the two financial years.

"If Totalcare is not to continue as a separate agency, then the preferred 
option is that all its current functions are reabsorbed into the public 
sector", said Mr Malone.

The Chief Minister has other ideas. He says workers' entitlements would be 
met where parts of the company are sold off or closed down. There are no 
guarantees of job security.

"After years of dedicated service to the ACT Government and local 
community, Totalcare workers deserve to be treated fairly and honestly", 
said the Secretary of ACT Unions Peter Malone.

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