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Questions raised about Aboriginal Legal Service pay

CONCERNS Aboriginal Legal Service employees across NSW and the ACT are "not being paid properly" were raised in discussions between staff and the board.

In a meeting last week between ALS staff at the Grafton office and the ALS board to discuss the planned relocation to Coffs Harbour, union representatives raised concerns employees were not being paid the correct award rate.

"We've got concerns staff are not being paid properly at the ALS, and this extends past this office into the wider Aboriginal Legal Service in NSW and ACT," Australian Services Union deputy secretary Judith Wright said.

"We have concerns funds allocated for service delivery have been moved away from that to pay for redundancies and relocation."

She said the union had continued to campaign for an office in both Grafton and Coffs Harbour to meet the high demand the ALS has said could be best served by a Coffs Harbour office.

"In light of the federal election, we called on the board to campaign for extra funding which we believe would allow there to be an office in both Grafton and Coffs Harbour," Ms Wright said.

"The board has not committed to doing that."

In a meeting between workers and executives in December, Ms Wright said workers presented a proposal for providing legal services from the current Grafton location they believed would have "fully met" the service requirements of both the Clarence Valley and Coffs regions. "We suggested the proposal be trialled to see if it would meet those needs. The board never responded to that proposal."

Ms Wright said with the recent decision to extend the move to June, the ALS would have had seven months to test it.

According to Ms Wright, the ALS was "currently getting legal advice".

"We will continue to advocate that the Grafton office shouldn't be shut up, and should be retained."

The ALS did not make any comment when approached by The Daily Examiner.



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