Anger as staff left on leave as contractors brought in at Myuna

10th June 2019

The Public Service Association has slammed the action given the centre's permanent maintenance staff remain "in limbo" on special leave.

"They were sent home on the 29th of May and told it was unsafe for them to be on site, along with all the [other] staff and people using the centre," PSA acting general secretary Troy Wright said.

"Yet somehow, incongruously, it's apparently safe for external maintenance contractors to be there.

"Why would they be double dipping on their expenses bill by still paying our members to be on leave at home, who are dying to be at work, and now they've got external contractors in there? It just doesn't make sense."

The Office of Sport did not deny contractors had been engaged when asked a series of questions by the Newcastle Herald.

But it did not say whether any work had been completed at the site, or what type of contractual arrangements had been made.

"The Office of Sport is looking at a number of options to ensure Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre is maintained to an acceptable level until a decision on the future of centre is determined," a spokesperson said.

Mr Wright said if work was outsourced, permanent staff feared it would likely lead to their replacement if the centre was to reopen.

"As well as the disappointment of being forced to go on leave through no fault of their own ... and the uncertainty of what's going to happen in the future, this is probably the icing on the cake to find out that somehow else has been employed externally ... to do their job," he said. 

"Their careers are currently in limbo through no fault of their own. If the site's too unsafe for our members to be working on it, why is it safe for external contractors to be there doing their job?"

A dumbfounded Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper described the decision to approach contractors as "bizarre".

Mr Piper said he was awaiting a response from Sports Minister John Sidoti, who he had written to requesting clarification if any maintenance contract signed included a no-penalty termination that would allow staff to return to the centre if it reopens.

"It would seem unusual and bizarre that the Office of Sport would even consider putting contractors onto the Myuna Bay site given their deliberate contrivance to evacuate it and shut it down," he said.

"But they've shown such poor judgement throughout this entire debacle that we shouldn't be surprised. 

"They have people who are experienced in maintaining the place, who have been displaced and who would actually love to continue looking after the site, but the office would rather bring in private contractors with no knowledge of the site, at greater expense, and expose them to the same risk - if there is such a risk - as those people they forced off site? Seriously?"

The Office of Sport closed the centre in March due to Origin Energy's concerns that its nearby Eraring power station's ash dam wall could rupture in a major earthquake.

The centre sits below the dam wall on the edge of Lake Macquarie.

A review of Origin Energy's engineering report which identified the concerns is being undertaken by the NSW Dams Safety Committee and is expected to be completed next month.

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