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A majority of United Service Union (USU) members at Wollondilly Council voted no confidence in the chief executive officer, Ben Taylor, on November 24 after he failed to meet with outdoor workers to discuss their concerns.

Rudi Oppitz, a union organiser at USU, said the workers want a meeting with the CEO to discuss their concerns of staffing ratios and programming of works

Mr Oppitz said Mr Taylor had given an assurance on November 2, to meet both the union and outdoor workers.

“Councillors and the community are now aware, he [Mr Taylor] does not have the confidence of our union members.”

Mr Oppitz said the council work crews are being stretched. He said it wasn’t uncommon for a road crew to be pulled from a job at one end of the shire to start work on another at the other end of the local government area.

“Our members have been raising concerns about work being allocated… [a crew] could get a call from a co-coordinator or manager to go to the other end of the shire and do a job.”

He said most times, they don’t finish the work they were originally sent out to do.

He send members have been confronted by community members and reiterated staff are doing a “valuable job for the community”.

Mr Oppitz said another concern was regarding staffing, with some crew members being elevated to do more senior roles, without vacancies being filled. On top of that was the issue of the increased use of contractors.

“We were forced to tell members [yesterday, November 24] the CEO did not take any undertakings to meet with staff. This created a lot of anger and a vote of no confidence.

“Our members didn’t have the confidence the CEO is going to address their issues and meet with them.

“What the union has been asking for is nothing the CEO or a director can’t resolve.

“Our members don’t do this lightly…the CEO should read the room and see the membership is not happy.”

Mr Taylor has dismissed the claims calling it a “beat up”.

“Our staff are happy, engaged and working hard to deliver for our community,” Mr Taylor said in a statement.

“It appears perhaps they’ve been provided misinformation on this issue. The information and actions requested by the union have either been completed or are already under way.

“This distraction is a waste of staff time that could have better been spent out there fixing the roads while the sun shines.”

Mr Oppitz is hoping for a meeting next week.

NSW Health is urging parents and young people to be alert to the symptoms of meningococcal disease and act immediately if they appear.

So far this year, there have been 29 cases of meningococcal disease reported in NSW.

A man in his 20s died from meningococcal B disease last week. It’s the second death due to meningococcal disease this year in the state.

Even though there is a vaccination, the disease can occur year round. NSW Health said increases tend to be in late winter and early spring.

There has been a slight increase in cases in recent weeks, compared with the same period over the previous five years.

Children under five and 15 to 25-year-olds are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.

Executive Director of Health Protection NSW, Dr Jeremy McAnulty said early intervention can be lifesaving.

“Meningococcal disease symptoms can appear suddenly and become very serious very quickly. If you suspect meningococcal disease, don’t wait for the rash – see a doctor immediately,” Dr McAnulty said.

Meningococcal disease can be fatal within hours if left untreated. Knowing the symptoms could help prevent premature death or life-long disability. They include:

Severe, unexplained limb pain

Difficulty waking up

High pitched crying in babies

Severe headache

Upset by bright lights

Stiff neck

Red-purple rash which doesn’t disappear when pressed with a glass

“While it is a well-known symptom of meningococcal disease, the rash does not always occur, or may present late in the illness,” Dr McAnulty said.

“If symptoms rapidly worsen, or if your child is very unwell, call Triple Zero (000) or go straight to your nearest emergency department.”

For details on vaccination or symptoms, transmission, risks and treatment of Meningococcal, visit the NSW Health website.

The Sydney Koala Basin Network (SBKN) is hosting a free Citizen Science Training Day and Community Launch at Rosemeadow Community Hall on Saturday, November 26, 10-4pm.

The day will be the ultimate chance for koala lovers to learn from experts and develop the skills to become a Koala Citizen Scientist and help protect koalas in the greater Sydney region.

After a morning presentation and learning session with koala ecology experts, attendees will have the chance to practise newly acquired skills in the bush. These skills will see people identifying koalas, key traits, age, scat, and koala food tree species. Additionally, people will learn where, when and how to report data so it can be used to help protect koalas.

Rosemeadow Community Hall, is at 5 Glendower St, Rosemeadow and the cost will be free (typically $25 but no charge with access code KOALACHAMPION) visit to book tickets.

Not suitable for under 16s.

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