Lifeguards leave a workplace meeting .
Lifeguards leave a workplace meeting . Warren Lynam

Cr Green backs lifeguard outsource

NOT drowning, just waving for assistance in a new direction - that is the council take on its decision to outsource its lifeguard services to Surf Life Saving Queensland.

And Royal Life Saving Queensland identity and Sunshine Coast councillor Russell Green has lashed out at "the scaremongering, the innuendo, the conspiracy theories and false information" he said has surfaced since the decision was made at a closed council session.

Paid lifeguards being answerable to the volunteer lifesaving hierarchy was always going to rankle with many of the rank and file professional beach watchers who will have to swap their blue and white council uniforms for the traditional red and yellow outfits.

For all the shouts of "save us" coming from some lifeguards, Cr Green said the fact is no one will be forced out of a job and the public can expect a better overall service once the two services are more closely integrated.

"They will be paid the same amount, they will work the same hours," Cr Green said this week.

"The only thing that will change is that the cheque will come every fortnight from Surf Life Saving Queensland.

"It will actually enhance the service because there will be so much better coordination on a whole range of things.

"Part of the (lifeguard service) sustainability review was not only looking at the now, but looking at the future because as our population grows, there's pressure to open more beaches, more areas for lifeguards and to have a better connectivity between the (emergency) services."

Cr Green said a majority of councillors voted on a review delivered over two years and was listed in the corporate plan. He said he had no qualms about the decision.

Nor does he believe he has a conflict of interest in voting for the change because RLSQ is a totally separate organisation concerned with freshwater lifesaving.

Cr Green said SLSQ can deliver an "enhanced and improved safety service to the public at no impact to the ratepayers".

"We actually project it will save us money in the long run," Cr Green said.

"There's a lot of opportunity open for the lifeguards - it is an ageing workforce within our lifeguards at the moment and as some of those start to struggle with either injury or with the ability to pass the fitness test in the future, surf life saving has career options for them in areas such as (surf safety) education, communication and a whole range of activities.

"Where as in council, you (the lifeguard) can go into the library and cover the library books and that's not a career path."

Cr Green argued permanent lifeguards stand to gain substantially under the new pay structure.

"There is no disadvantage to the employees - there will be an added advantage with salaries because of salary sacrifice provisions, the permanent guys have the potential to be $5000 a year better off.

"The permanent guys are on approximately $56,000 a year so will end up with $5000 a year more in the pocket."

Cr Green also defended the way the new contract process was handled.

"The only reason we had to have a confidential meeting about it, is we're dealing with HR (human resources) and financial matters."


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