January 19, 1996

Distributed to:  State Fire Command Alexandria, Newcastle, Wollongong, Gosford, Katoomba, Albury, Turvey Park, Lismore

As reported previously, the Union and the Department met on 22 December, 1995 to discuss the mechanism for paying the agreed new allowances in Communications Centres across the State.

At that meeting and a subsequent meeting on 15 January, 1996, the Department insisted upon a departure from existing methods of payment for relievers and the payment to operators at Turvey Park, Albury, Gosford and Katoomba.  This was despite the assurances given to the Union during the negotiations that the new rates would be paid in the same way as the existing allowance.

The Department’s position is:

‘Permanent’ Operators

Full payment of the new allowance (approx. $28.00 per shift for operators) for all purposes. Supervisors are to be paid $30.00 per shift and Senior Supervisors $36.00 on the same basis as the operators.

Relieving Operators

Payment of $20.50 per fortnight for holding comms qualifications plus $15.00 per shift relieving allowance when not in a Communications Centre.  When working in Comms,  relievers would be paid the new allowance of $28.00/30.00/36.00 per shift plus the $15.00 per shift relieving allowance and continue to be paid the $20.50 per fortnight comms qualification allowance.

‘Rotating’ Operators at Turvey Park, Albury, Gosford and Katoomba

The Department is also seeking to abolish the long established practice of paying all qualified personnel at the above Comms Centres/Stations the full comms allowance.  Its position is that personnel should be paid in the same way as described above for relieving operators (except the $15.00 per shift relieving allowance would not be paid).  That is ‘rotating’ operators would be paid the full rate only for those shifts that are served in the Control Room.

Clearly, the position now being put by the Department is not in line with the understanding developed between the parties during the job evaluation process.

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A meeting and telephone link-up of delegates from each of the Communication Centres will be held on Thursday, 25 January, 1996 at 12.00 noon in the Union Office in Sydney.  Delegates from State Fire Command, Newcastle, Wollongong, Gosford and Katoomba (if possible) are to meet at the Office, with Turvey Park, Albury and Lismore delegates participating by way of party line telephone link-up.  Should delegates from Newcastle, Wollongong, Gosford and Katoomba be unable to attend in person then a telephone can be provided.

Where a Centre does not have a Union delegate (or where they are unavailable), members at those Centres should appoint a delegate for the meeting.

The purpose of the meeting is to fully brief delegates of the options available to the Union, so that they can convene meetings of permanent and relieving staff in the Comms Centres upon their return to consider and vote on what course of action the Union is to pursue.  Each Comms Centre should then return their voting returns (showing yes/no votes) via fax to the Union Office by 2.00pm Thursday 1st February 1996.

The objective of this process is to finalise the Comms allowance issue by whatever means as decided by members concerned.  Whilst the payments applicable to permanent operators are ‘finalised’, all facets of the allowance should be finalised prior to the payment of the allowances so as to maintain a united response to the Department.

The Union asks that delegates ensure all comms members, including relievers not presently operating in comms, be contacted and made aware of this notice so as to allow all members the opportunity to participate in the decision making process.

Please contact Michael Wright or Chris Read at the Union Office on (02) 267 5552 to make arrangements for attendance at the meeting.


Chris Read

State Secretary

19th January, 1996