Freo's View

REDEPLOY FREMANTLE STAFF ASAP!

 

With May Day just around the corner it is very disappointing that Fremantle Council last night voted to stand down around 60 staff members, as part of the special Covid-19 budget amendment, with no commitment from the elected members to redeploy the affected staff in the future.

It is also extremely disappointing that the State Government is not taking any responsibility and action, with Local Government Minister David Templeman saying there is no need for councils to stand down staff and Premier Mark McGowan on record saying that the action by Fremantle Council is appalling.

A city that gets a large part of its revenue from parking fees and fines, tourism and the hospitality industry clearly is far more in financial strive than other councils. For the State Government to just say that it is a local government problem is unfair and unrealistic.

The Labor State Government needs to look better after local council workers and can’t just let them rot. These are the people who keep our communities going, who do a lot of the basic jobs and who deserve acknowledgment for that. To put them on the scrap heap because of financial difficulties at local government level is not right and the unions need to step up and start crying a lot louder than what they have done so far.

May Day should be the day where the entire Fremantle community makes it very clear that we want the affected staff members to be redeployed as soon as possible! All the bullsh.t that we are all in this together is just a PR slogan!

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE CITY FINANCIAL CRISIS

 

There is no doubt that the City of Fremantle is having a very difficult financial time with loss of revenue reportedly at $ 2 million a month, which would mean that if the current Covid-19 restrictions remain in place Fremantle would lose $ 12 million over the next six months and will need to drastically reduce expenditure. Freo City management have already done that on a small scale by reducing staff hours and staff numbers temporarily, but there are concerns that for some staff it might mean permanent loss of employment. Senior management and elected members also have taken a 20 per cent pay cut.

It will be extremely hard to prioritise where costs can be cut, and some of it will not be popular with the Fremantle community, but in these unprecedented times unpopular decisions will have to be made.

Word is out that Council might scrap the $ 800,000 per year CAT bus service and that would be very disappointing, but I have little doubt that especially the festivals, One Day Australia Day event, and major works, such as the traffic calming along South Terrace and Hampton Road, will be considered when the elected members discus how and where to save money. The planned new playground at Kings Square might also be cancelled or deferred.

It is of no help at all then when the Fremantle Society comes up with ludicrous suggestions, such as that the completion of the Walyalup Civic Centre at Kings Square should be deferred and the building should be made into an exhibition centre that would show the City of Fremantle art collection.

Does the Society even have a clue on how much money it would take to change the purpose built administration centre into a proper exhibition space? Do they really believe it is just a matter of not putting staff furniture in there and hang some pictures on walls? How naive and silly! And by the way, the Fremantle art collection is not all that flash, as I noticed when I was assigned to photograph most of it some twenty years ago. I asked the consultant curator then why the city had an art collection of which about 70 per cent is mediocre and of Sunday painter quality that is not worth exhibiting.

We do already have an outstanding Fremantle Arts Center that has great exhibitions, concerts and events, and some of the Freo art collection is regularly shown there in the gallery just past the reception desk.

The Fremantle Society president also suggests to redirect the $ 800,000, if the CAT gets stopped, to the repairs of Arthur’s Head, but the CAT would be scratched to save money, not to use it elsewhere.

Council and the administration can use all the help they can get to make good financial decisions, but simplistic and unrealistic demands are not helpful at all, so there is no hope in hell either that council rates will be reduced by 4%, as the Society president suggested.

Let’s stay calm and be realistic, and let’s not start a blame game about which past Council decisions might have been wrong. No one could even anticipate the global pandemic situation we are in, but we do need to learn from it and the City of Fremantle needs to put away money for unexpected changes in the economy. All it can do now is borrow more money, slash costs, because there is no way they can increase council rates from July. Businesses and property owners are struggling. We all are!

We all need to concentrate on the future and acknowledge that there are councils, such as Fremantle, which need and deserve financial support from the state and federal governments, or a lot of public works will not happen, and we could well lose our festivals and events for some years. That would be absolutely terrible!

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE CITY STAFF UPROAR

Posted in city of fremantle, covid-19, employment, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on April 17, 2020

 

There are a lot of unhappy staff at the City of Fremantle because the coronavirus crisis has forced CEO Phil St John to take drastic measures and cut staff costs.

Some of the staff of the Fremantle Arts Centre, Leisure Centre and Library, which are all closed, have been directed to take annual leave, and unfortunately for some that means leave without pay.

Of the 380 staff at Freo City 170 have been pushed to accept a 20 per cent reduction in working hours, which for them means a 20 per cent loss of income, which is the same as the voluntary pay cuts for the 23 senior staff and 13 elected members.

Fremantle no longer charges parking fees and I have not seen parking officers for days, so presumably parking fines are also no longer issued, and these officers might also be out of work temporarily.

While there has been outrage on the City of Fremantle Facebook page, with affected staff members complaining the measures are unfair to them, it is clear that Fremantle is financially struggling with a huge loss of income from parking, commercial property leases, Fremantle Arts Centre concerts, and Leisure Centre fees, and that expenditure had to be cut somehow.

I believe though it is fair to ask also which directors and senior managers are essential during the Covid-19 crisis, e.g. Community Development, People&Culture, when there are no festivals or community events to organise.

To put balance to the debate though, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that the Federal Government was not contemplating pay cuts for the Cabinet.

These are bloody hard times, and so many people are severely affected by it, and of course those who are affected always feel they are unfairly dealt with. I feel for all of them, and hope all the restrictions will not last as long as we all fear. Stay strong!

Roel Loopers

 

FREMANTLE MP CALLS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

Posted in city of fremantle, covid-19, federal government, health, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on April 10, 2020

 

Fremantle Federal MP Josh Wilson has called for the Morrison government to change its rules and support local governments, as many of our councils are in financial difficulties because of the Covid-19 crisis, and some might have to let staff go.

Fremantle is losing a lot of revenue because of lack of parking fees and fines, no income from concerts at the arts centre, no income from the Leisure Centre and no income from commercial property leases, etc.

Josh Wilson says:

“Local governments are working to reduce fees, rents, and parking charges to assist households and businesses through this difficult time, and they are delivering new support services for those struggling to deal with self-isolation, especially the elderly. But these changes affect the bottom line for local government, and the mandated closure of many public facilities means both a loss of revenue and the need to stand-down thousands of employees.
 
It makes no sense whatsoever for local government to be excluded from the JobKeeper package. Labor led the push for a wage subsidy in response to the crisis and we support the introduction of the $130 billion package, but it could and should have been broader in its scope. In parliament the government blocked Labor’s amendments, but the parliament has already given the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, the ability to make adjustments and so the exclusion of local government can be repaired at the stroke of his pen.

As it stands there will be millions of Australian workers who will not be provided with decent wage-replacing support, and who will unnecessarily be disconnected from their employing business or organisation. That puts a sharp burden on displaced workers and it means we will not be in the best position to recover when the crisis has past.

Local government is a foundation stone of community services and attractions in the form of libraries, recreation facilities, and broad arts and cultural activities. On the other side of this crisis we will need local government to lead the way in re-opening and rebuilding. The phase we are in now is survival. In the recovery phase local government will be a key partner in delivering projects, services, and events that will create work, attract visitors, support business, and encourage the broader community to get back to an active and engaged life together. But this will be seriously hampered if local government has been unnecessarily smashed and shrunken in the meantime.

 In Cockburn, each month of closure will see Cockburn ARC forgo $1 million in revenue that’s ordinarily used to cover staffing costs. For now, the City of Cockburn is retaining the ARC’s 38 full and part-time staff and 200 casual workers, but that is an almost $1 million commitment that will be shouldered by ratepayers.

In Fremantle, the city will lose almost $700,000 per month in revenue with the closure of the Fremantle Leisure Centre, Fremantle Arts Centre, and loss of lease income where businesses have closed. The jobs of more than 200 Fremantle local government workers are at risk.”

Fremantle senior staff and elected members have agreed on a voluntary 20 per cent pay cut for six months, and while that is appreciated it will make little difference in compensating for the severely decreased revenue of the City.

Roel Loopers

VOLUNTARY PAY CUTS AT CITY OF FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, covid-19, employment, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on April 9, 2020

 

City of Fremantle senior staff will take a 20 per cent voluntary pay cut to help combat the serious financial impacts on the City of the COVID-19 crisis.

CEO Philip St John has announced that he, directors and managers had all agreed to cut their salaries as part of the City’s response to a forecast $6 million loss in revenue between now and the end of the financial year.

 Mayor Brad Pettitt and Fremantle councillors have also agreed to voluntarily reduce their allowances by 20 per cent.

 City of Fremantle staff employed in areas that are currently unable to operate at full capacity because of COVID-19 will work reduced hours or take leave.

 Essential local services such as waste collection, community safety, infrastructure maintenance, customer service and street cleaning will continue to operate as normal during this time.

 Mr St John said the devastating effect of the coronavirus on Fremantle businesses and residents was having a similar impact on the City.

 “Like the rest of our community, the City is feeling deeply the economic effects of COVID-19,” Mr St John said.

 “A large proportion of our income – about one third – comes from parking fees, commercial rent and other charges. These revenue streams have pretty much disappeared overnight.

 “As a consequence, we expect to lose around $2 million in revenue a month between now and 30 June. As with any household budget, the only way to cope in an environment of drastically reduced income is to reduce spending.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt called on other levels of government to be more mindful of the serious impact that COVID-19 was having on local councils.

 “It’s disappointing that local governments have been excluded from the Commonwealth’s JobKeeper program,” Mayor Pettitt said.

 “Councils like Fremantle are being asked to substantially cut revenue through freezing rates, free parking and other measures, but we are also being asked to maintain expenditure – the biggest of which is salaries.

 “This is unsustainable without federal and state support.”

FREMANTLE MARKETS CLOSES

Posted in city of fremantle, food, fremantle markets, Freo Farmers Market, health, Uncategorized by freoview on March 25, 2020

 

The Fremantle Markets has just announced that it will be closed for the the time being, due to coronavirus concerns and government restrictions. This is very sad news as it will again affect many small businesses and sole operators, who rely for income on the markets.

The Freo Farmers Market is still going ahead on Sunday, but I presume they will only be allowed to sell food.

Many national retailers today also announced closures of their shops, so times are well and truly dire.

I feel for all who have been made unemployed. It is not your fault, so don’t feel embarrassed to apply for Centrelink support! You have a right to it, deserve it, and need it!

Let us all you hope that all these measures will slow down the pandemic considerably and that life can go back to normal earlier that anticipated. Stay well and look after each other!

 

Roel Loopers

NEW FREO ERA OVERSHADOWED BY CLOSING CAFES

Posted in cafe, city of fremantle, community, employment, health, hospitality, Uncategorized by freoview on March 23, 2020

 

 

Today should have been a special day for Fremantle with the start of a new era, with the first 300 of the 1700 staff of the Department of Communities moving into their new offices at Kings Square. Unfortunately this will be overshadowed by the fact that all our cafes, restaurants, bars, taverns, nightclubs will be required to close from 1pm today because of the coronavirus. Only take away will be allowed from those premises.

While this is a necessary measure by the Federal Government the hardship on small and medium businesses and sole operators will be devastating, and I have grave fears that quite a few of them will have to close their doors for ever.

Wholesalers will end up with with all the food the hospitality operators have ordered but will now have to cancel, sole operators who supply cakes and muffins, etc. to cafes will no longer have that income, and it is likely that most of the causal staff will lose their jobs. I hear that was already announced in a staff meeting at Bread in Common yesterday.

I am very optimistic about the resilience of the human race, and I am certain we will get through this unprecedented worldwide crisis, but I am gutted for all my friends in the hospitality industry. I feel really down, deflated and so incredibly powerlessness, and all I can do is wish I’ll win Lotto so I can go around an hand out big wads of cash to my fellow Freo people and help them get through this period of hardship and heart break.

Everybody has to do their bit! It was mind blowing to see  a Fremantle dancefloor packed like sardines on Saturday night and people flocking to beaches and all ignoring the social distancing requirements. I observed some of that irresponsible behaviour at Bathers Beach venues on Sunday afternoon. Now new laws had to be introduced to stop that nonsense

Roel Loopers

 

FREO’S FIRST EQUAL OPPORTUNITY CAFE

Posted in cafe, city of fremantle, disability, hospitality, Uncategorized by freoview on February 25, 2020

 

 

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A new cafe opened today in Fremantle and should be one all of us support. The Humble Pantry is the first Freo Equal Opportunity cafe that trains and employs people with a disability or disadvantage.

Trainees produce a list of what they want to achieve and are then guided and supported to achieve that and prepare for possible employment elsewhere in the hospitality industry.

The Humble Pantry is in the beautifully restored former Boy’s School at princess May Park and part of DADAA.

There is a lovely quiet courtyard that makes the experience being in a little oasis away from the hectic of the inner city, so perfect for business meetings or keeping your secret lovers away from preying eyes. ;>)

There are wraps, pastries, salads, muffins, but no cooked to order meals.

Please do support this great initiative, Freo!

Roel Loopers

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MUA NEW PORT ATTACK ON MEMBER FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, employment, fremantle ports, maritime, Uncategorized, Westport taskforce by freoview on February 1, 2020

 

MUA

 

Fremantle wharfies are not happy with plans for a new port at Kwinana, so the Maritime Uniion of Australia(MUA) have put a full page advertisement in the Fremantle Herald attacking our local member Minister Simone McGurk.

The MUA claims it will cost 8,000 Freo jobs, and that it would be a broken election promise by the Labor party, who stated they would keep Fremantle a working port.

It is still very premature as the final report of the Westport Taskforce has not been completed and the government has yet to make a decision, but all indications are that the first three preferred options of the taskforce are to move the port to Kwinana and leave Fremantle for cruiseships, and I too would be disappointed about that.

There is no doubt that a new port would be largely automated, so fewer jobs for wharfies, but it is probably a good idea for the MUA to sit down with the stevedore companies and state government to make sure wharfies are being retrained to whatever new jobs will become available.

I have stated it many time that I love the working port in Fremantle and the huge cranes on North Quay, and a new port will be at least 10-15 years away if and when the labor government decide yo build one near Kwinana, so I won’t be seeing it.

Roel Loopers

WE WANT CAFE SERVICE WITH A SMILE!

Posted in cafe, city of fremantle, coffee, hospitality, Uncategorized by freoview on December 29, 2019

 

A lot of Freo cafes have great coffee and good food, so for me the difference is the people who serve you, and I question why some of them seem to hate taking orders and bringing your coffee.

Now that my favourite cafe CHALKYS in the West End of High Street is closed until Jan 3 I have been getting a lot of unfriendly service is some of the cafes I tried out, and it means I won’t be returning even when the espressos were good.

You are in the hospitality business, so make your customers feel welcome!

It is not good at all for those who own the cafes when customers don’t return, because it are the regulars who support a business daily that give a bit of turnover security.

Cafe operators need to train their staff to smile and engage with customers, even at 7am. I am always courteous and smile when I order, and so are all the staff at CHALKYS!

 

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on WE WANT CAFE SERVICE WITH A SMILE!

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