The Services Union, which represents members working at failed NDIS provider FSG, has slammed CEO Vicky Batten’s announcement last week that the company is going into voluntary administration, ‘leaving 900 workers in Queensland and 80 in the Northern Rivers with employment uncertainty’.
The union said FSG ‘gave employees only nine days notice that services would cease with no information about what that actually meant for them’.
The Services Union has filed a dispute with Fair Work Commission over what it says is ‘the lack of consultation given by FSG to its workforce and the thousands of clients it supports’.
It has also called on the Queensland Government to help maintain certainty of workers and clients transitioning to new providers.
Executive president Jennifer Thomas said ‘this type of behaviour is typical of the management at FSG’.
‘It’s the type of behaviour we have come to expect from the FSG management over the years, but it’s still hard to believe that Ms Batten can show such disrespect for working people who provide frontline services to the most vulnerable in our communities,’ Ms Thomas said.
‘We’ve never had that collaborative relationship that we’ve had with other disability service providers,’ she told Echonetdaily.
Over the last few weeks we have tried in vain to garner information from FSG in relation to what was happening, unfortunately, they were completely unwilling to provide any information to our union or to employees about what they had in store.’
‘This disgraceful lack of consultation has left employees with not only uncertainty about their working futures but high levels of stress about how they are going to put food on the table and pay their bills,’ Ms Thomas said.
The Services Union has made representation to the Queensland Government.
‘The state government has taken a supportive role to adopt a business as usual approach for clients and frontline service employees,’ Ms. Thomas said.
‘We are hoping for a smooth transition to other service providers in the coming weeks.’
Meanwhile, FSG management have announced they have formed an independent partnership with FSG Australia to provide certainty of service to more than 1,500 customers receiving disability support services, and would seek to offer employment to many FSG staff.
CPL CEO Rhys Kennedy said the agreement with the Gold Coast-based business will offer FSG’s customers’ continuity of service supports.
‘It’s important to remember that at the centre of this matter are people with disabilities,’ Mr Kennedy said.
‘I would like to reassure FSG Australia customers – and the community – that our priority is ensuring that everyone will continue to receive their services and support by our amazing team here at CPL,’ he said.
‘From 1 July this year, CPL will support FSG customers who receive disability support services to continue their supports at CPL. This is approximately 1,500 customers who live in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Northern NSW.
FSG Australia Chief Executive Officer Vicki Batten said the organisation has been working behind the scenes to investigate options available to FSG to minimise any disruption of services to its customers, and place as many of its staff as possible with other service providers.
‘FSG has been in discussion with a number of organisations this past week to secure ongoing services for its customers and employment opportunities for its people, especially within the disability services arm of our business,’ Ms Batten said.
‘We were very pleased and relieved that CPL – a quality and trusted organisation – responded to our call for help,’ she said.
Where did FSG go wrong?
‘This situation did not happen overnight and there are really big questions needed to be asked of FSG management as to how they have allowed it to come to this especially when they receive $60 million from the taxpayer each year,’ Ms Thomas said.
She added that FSG seemed more interested in expanding its business footprint than providing on-the-ground services for disabled clients’.
Over the years, FSG has expanded into areas as diverse as a travel agency, a plant nursery and an indoor climbing gym.
‘They would receive funding to provide a product and they would be more interested in expansion into areas of the board or CEO’s choice has never sat well with us. They would do it at the cost of award workers’ wages,’ she said.