LIFEGUARDS have ignored a midday Friday deadline to accept job offers from the Australian Lifeguard Service, throwing into doubt its ability to deliver experienced professional staff to fill a $15 million contract signed Thursday.
Council now faces finding new jobs or paying redundancy packages to at least 54 (new numbers) of the 77 lifeguards on its active roster.
More are expected to join that number by the Monday deadline set for them to indicate to council whether they would transition to ALS or stick with it.
Only about seven accepted offers from ALS ahead of its deadline yesterday.
A lifeguard spokesman said ratepayers now faced a bill to get rid of council workers who had been happy in jobs they did extremely well.
Lifeguards have opted to stay because of their very real fear that the transition to an outsourced service has been rushed and lacked the risk analysis necessary to guarantee standards are maintained.
The contract was finalised on Thursday hours after Deputy Mayor Chris Thompson told Mayor Mark Jamieson he would not withdraw a notice of motion calling for the outsource decision to be debated at a full council meeting on October 18.
Mr Thompson lodged the notice of motion with the acting CEO Greg Laverty on Tuesday.
On Wednesday he was called to the mayor's office and told if he pursued it his position as deputy mayor may become untenable.
On Thursday morning Mr Thompson told Mr Jamieson he would not withdraw the motion.
He said yesterday council had to have the capacity to accommodate diverse views inside a professional working relationship.
Several hours after his conversation with the mayor, the contract was signed despite Cr Tim Dwyer's request that it first be returned to full council for ratification.
While the signatures were being put on the five-year contract, lifeguards were in what they thought were good faith negotiations over the detail of the document.
"We were told we would be part of forming the contract only to have it signed behind out back,'' a senior lifeguard said.
"People with experience on the beach have had no part in this process from the start. Safety was not part of the consideration. Where's the risk analysis.''
Mr Jamieson said yesterday that although a notice of motion was proposed, council "was legally bound to comply with the resolution of 23 August 2012".
"There was never a resolution to have the contract come back to council for ratification,'' he said.
"It must be remembered this issue has been before council for more than two years. Even the two councillors who voted against the proposal - have been well aware of the issue since 2009."
Cr Dwyer said he had questioned all councillors about his call for the contract to be ratified and none denied he had asked for that to occur.
"The CEO didn't question or deny the request,'' he said. "But there was no diligent recording of the minutes. It wasn't part of the resolution but it should have been a note to file.''
Cr Dwyer was also at odds yesterday with the mayor's claim no councillor had been part of the negotiating team.
He named Councillors Russell Green and Ted Hungerford as having been actively involved in the process.
Cr Green has repeatedly insisted that despite his close association with Surf Life Saving both as a volunteer and in paid positions, he had no conflict of interest.
However 18 months ago one did exist causing him to withdraw from a vote that council support the successful bid to stage the 2016 Australian Surf Life Saving Titles here.
Cr Thompson said yesterday that while he respected his fellow councillors' right to make the decision to outsource the service, the process had been appalling.
"The process that led to the decision and the signing of the contract needs to be reviewed,'' he said.
"What has just occurred should never happen again and steps must be taken to ensure it doesn't.''