Rous and Lismore Water to merge?

Lismore Waters 22 outdoor staff are wondering what will happen to their jobs now that Lismore City Council has flagged resource sharing with Rous Water.

Lismore Water team leader Trevor Foster spoke at Tuesdays Lismore City Council meeting on behalf of his colleagues, saying the proposal appeared to amount to a take-over or amalgamation.

Meanwhile, councillor Vanessa Ekins said she had concerns about one organisation controlling the water cycle.

Its setting us up for privatisation, she said.

Mr Foster said a lot of outdoor staff were worried about their jobs and their future.

Lismore Water has seven vacancies at the moment. And theres been no attempt to fill them, he said. We realise change is inevitable but we dont support wholesale change because Council cant find some middle management roles.

He also questioned how as a bulk water supplier Rous Water could take over Lismore Water, which also has responsibility for waste water and sewage treatment plants.

He said at a meeting attended by 17 Lismore Water staff, only two voted to explore the option of resource sharing with Rous, while 15 were against it.

General manager Paul OSullivan said it was his intention that Lismore Water staff would be involved with discussions with Rous management and this wasnt a back room deal.

Nothing is going to happen that people arent going to be fully aware of, including staff, he said.

Councillor David Tomlinson moved that in addition to endorsing future discussions with Rous a report be prepared for Council detailing the financial, operational and organisational drawbacks and benefits of the proposal.

Theres a shortage of skilled people in this industry, he said. If we can resource share with Rous there could be some benefits. But we need to make sure our interests are protected and there are no extra costs to Council.

Cr Ekins spoke against the motion, saying councillors from Ballina, Richmond Valley and Byron also had concerns about the proposed resource sharing.

They all said they needed a lot more information on it, she said. I dont support it and I dont endorse it.

Council voted 10/1 (Cr Ekins against) to have further discussions with Rous on resource sharing.

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