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Tuesday, 16 August 1960

Mr Sexton (ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that draughtsmen and certain other technical grades employed by the Department of Works at Adelaide have recently been downgraded in reclassification and that the difference between their former salaries and their reclassified salaries is being continued as an " overpayment "?

2.   Is this " overpayment " being set off against basic wage adjustments and marginal increases in such a way as to deprive many of the employees concerned of a wage increase which normally would have applied to their new classification?

3.   Is it a fact that, in the Postmaster-General's Department, the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury, and the Department of Works at Canberra, no employees in a similar technical position have been downgraded, and that, generally speaking, this is the case in most other government departments?

4.   If so, will he arrange for the Public Service Board to review the action of the Department of Works at Adelaide so as to ensure that the employees concerned who have been adversely affected by the reclassification will receive the full benefit of all wage adjustments?

Mr Menzies - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. A new organization, related by numbers and grades to the work situation, wai approved for the Department of Works, Adelaide. Basically, this organization set up a subprofessional structure under a technical grades scheme. This scheme aims at providing a range of technical positions to be occupied by persons not possessing the full academic and technical qualifications required for broader professional duties. The reorganization did result in changes in the pay scales and designations of a number of positions. Some sixteen employees received pay increases and some 24 are now held against positions of a lower classification than those formerly held by them. Most of the latter are being permitted to retain their former rate of pay until movements in their new classification bring their nominal salaries into Une with actual pay or until such earlier date as it is administratively practicable to place them satisfactorily by other means.

3.   In all departments where the sub-professional grades have been introduced the same principles have been followed, but for various reasons the impact has been less severe in some departments than in others. In the case of the Department of Works, Canberra, and the Postmaster-General's Department and the Weapons Research Establishment in South Australia, the introduction of technical grades occurred at a time when an actual increase in the organizations was necessary. The additional positions required enabled existing staff in the majority of instances to be placed in new positions carrying salaries equivalent to those they were already receiving.

4.   The organization approved for the Department of Works, Adelaide, is designed for the efficient performance of the existing work load. The situation has been very carefully considered and no re-examination appears warranted. The retention of the existing rates of pay by those employees whose positions have been downgraded, in fact, represents a substantial concession to the employees concerned.

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