May 15, 1997

Following near-unanimous endorsement of the Award proposal dated 17 April 1997, by members of the Retained Sub-Branch, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission ratified a new Award for Retained Firefighters on Friday 2 May 1997. The new Award, known as the CROWN EMPLOYEES (NSW FIRE BRIGADES RETAINED FIREFIGHTING STAFF) AWARD 1997, delivers significant benefits for retained firefighters.

The new Award will govern the working conditions and rates of pay for NSW Retained Firefighters until 30 September 1999.

The following summary outlines the improvements and changes in the new Award:

BACK PAY

Although not contained in the Award, the Union has secured back pay for all retained firefighters. The back pay received by a retained firefighter will be an amount equivalent to 6% of the firefighter’s total earnings for the period from 1 October 1996 to 30 April 1997.

SINGLE RATE OF PAY

Perhaps the most monumental win for retained firefighters is the introduction, in this Award, of a single rate of pay. The Union secured the single rate by increasing the pre-existing drill rates by 36%, thus making them equivalent to the pre-existing incident rates. No longer will members be paid a lesser rate of pay for training, restows, attendance at meetings and other authorised duties, which were previously paid at the drill rate.

This 36% increase in drill rates was contained within the first 6% funding increase secured by the Union, plus 1% of the second increase.

INCREASED RATES OF PAY AND ALLOWANCES

Retainer Payments

Retainer Payments have been increased by a flat amount of $1.80 in recognition of the abolition of the Motor Drive Allowance.

Following the flat $1.80 increase, all retainer payments were then increased by 6%. Further increases of 6%, 3% and 3% will occur on 1 October 1997, 1 October 1998 and 1 April 1999, respectively.

Single Rate

For the period from 1 May 1997 to 30 September 1997, the only increase is the 36% increase in the drill rate. From 1 October 1997, the new single rate of pay will be increased by 5% and then 3% from 1 October 1998 and a further 3% from 1 April 1999.

Allowances

Supplementary allowances are increased by 6% from 1 May 1997, and further increased by 6% from 1 October 1997, 3% from 1 October 1998 and a final 3% from 1 April 1999.

  • Kilometre Rate has been increased from $0.60/km to $0.68/km.
  • Meal allowances are increased from $12.00 to $13.27.
  • A new refreshments allowance of $6.63 has been secured as a new benefit in the Award.
  • The Motor Drive Allowances have been abolished, resulting in an increase of $1.80 in all retainers, before the percentage increases were applied.

See the attached table for more detailed information about the increases in the retainer payments, rates of pay and allowances.

SUPPLEMENTARY ALLOWANCES

In addition to the increases in the Supplementary Payment Base Rates, the provisions relating to AFA testing have been broadened so that where members, other than the Captain, perform such duties they will receive the appropriate payments.

There is also a commitment in the Award that the Department and the Union will undertake a joint review of how these payments are made, with a view to implementing a more appropriate method.

OVERPAYMENTS

The Union has reduced the rate at which the Department may reclaim overpayments. Previously the Department could reclaim monies at a rate equivalent to 20% of the firefighters total monthly earnings. Under the new Award, this rate has been reduced to 10%, however members may still opt to have a greater percentage reclaimed.

HIGHER DUTIES

A new Higher Duties Clause specifies the conditions under which higher duties can be performed.

Primarily, the Union has secured payment at the Captain’s rate of pay for those firefighters who take charge of the incident in the absence of the Captain. Therefore, at incidents where the Captain is not in attendance, but:

a)         the Deputy Captain is in attendance, the Deputy Captain shall take charge and will receive payment at the Captain’s rate of pay for the duration.

b)         the Deputy Captain is not in attendance, the most senior firefighter in attendance shall take charge and will receive payment at the Captain’s rate for the duration.

The Union has also secured provisions for the replacement of either the Captain and Deputy Captains on a more equitable basis than has existed in the past. Where the period of relief is to be more than 1 month, expressions of interest shall be called for and a merit based selection process will be used to fill the short term vacancy. Where the period of relief is to be more than 6 months, the period of relief will be equitably divided amongst the successful applicants.

MEALS & REFRESHMENTS

A new clause has been inserted in the Award which details the provisions for refreshments and meals. In the event that refreshments and meals are not provided, the appropriate allowances shall be paid. Where allowances are payable, such allowances may be claimed from Station Petty Cash prior to the cessation of duty. The Union has agreement from the Department that station petty cash floats shall be increased to facilitate these payments.

IMPROVED LEAVE PROVISIONS

The Union has secured vast improvements to existing leave entitlements as well as provisions for leave which did not previously exist.

Sick Leave

Under the previous Award, the only entitlement sick leave provided was the retention of the retainer payment. The Union has secured sick leave on full pay. Full pay for the purposes of the new sick leave provisions is equivalent to the payment currently made for Annual Leave (ie: weekly average earnings of the 12 months immediately prior to the date of taking leave).

Military Leave

The 1997 Award sees the introduction of Military Leave for members who are also members of the Australian Defence Forces. This leave provides for the retention of the retainer only.

Parental Leave

The 1994 Award contained provisions for Maternity leave only. The 1997 Award has been expanded to include other forms of Parental Leave, such as Paternity Leave and Adoption Leave.

Personal/Carer’s Leave

Personal Carer’s Leave has been introduced in the 1997 Award, to allow firefighters to access their sick leave entitlements for the purpose of caring for close relatives including spouses, children and other household members including defacto partners.

Special Leave For Union Activities

The Union has also secured leave for accredited Union Officials and Delegates who attend Union related conferences and training courses.

TRAVELLING COMPENSATION

The new travelling Compensation Provisions have been expanded to provide for paid travelling time (when not in receipt of the kilometre allowance), reimbursement of fares and travel expenses, accommodation and meals when travelling to training courses, authorised meetings and other authorised duties.

COURT ATTENDANCE ENTITLEMENTS

New Court Attendance provisions have been secured which provide for payment during attendance at Court in addition to the monies provided by the Court as compensation for loss of income from a firefighter’s primary form of employment. These provisions also provide for travel costs, etc.

TRAINING COURSE ATTENDANCE ENTITLEMENTS

The Training Course Attendance Entitlements clause has been inserted to specifically cover firefighters attending training courses, other than station drills, and particularly those courses conducted at Regional Training Centres.

TRANSFERS

The Union has formalised the provisions relating to transfers between retained brigades, and has also secured a right of appeal to the Commissioner for employees who are refused such transfers.

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS AT INCIDENTS AND DRILLS

The attendance requirements of Retained Firefighters were previously outlined in a Departmental procedures handbook. Whilst the percentages have not changed, by including this matter in the Award, the Union has ensured that the Department cannot change them without the agreement of the Union’s members.

COMMITMENTS

The Union has secured a number of very important commitments in the Award, which include:

The implementation of Competency Based Training for retained firefighters, the target date for which is 1 January 1998. There will also be a review of the current classification structure and training requirements of retained firefighters within the first 18 months of the Award.

  • A joint review, within the first 12 months of the Award, to investigate the issue of a second set of protective clothing to all stations irrespective of the number of fire calls received by a station.
  • The development of a schedule of meetings and other authorised duties for which payment may be claimed, within the first 6 months of the Award.
  • A review of the time required to restow firefighting vehicles.
  • A review of the duties and responsibilities of Engine Keepers.
  • A review of the method of payment of supplementary allowances.

Copies of the new Award will be issued to retained stations in the near future. Enquiries in relation to the provisions of the Award should be directed to the Retained Industrial Officer, Iain Bailey, on (02) 9267-5552.

Chris Read

State Secretary

Wednesday, 15 May 1997.


CROWN EMPLOYEES (NSW FIRE BRIGADES RETAINED FIREFIGHTING STAFF) AWARD 1997


TABLE OF RATES OF PAY



On and From 1 May 1997

$

On and From 1 October 1997

$

On and From 1 October 1998

$

On and From 1 April 1999

$

Retaining Fee

Captain

68.10

72.20

74.40

76.60

Retaining Fee

Deputy Captain

61.40

65.10

67.10

69.10

Retaining Fee

Engine Keeper

55.00

58.30

60.10

61.90

Retaining Fee

Firefighter

35.00

37.10

38.20

39.40

Rate of Pay

1st Hour

Captain

18.27

19.18

19.76

20.35

Rate of Pay

1st Hour

Deputy Captain

Engine Keeper

Firefighter

15.83

16.62

17.12

17.63

Rate of Pay

Subsequent Half Hour

Captain

9.14

9.59

9.88

10.18

Rate of Pay

Subsequent Half Hour

Deputy Captain

Engine Keeper

Firefighter

7.92

8.31

8.56

8.82

Kilometre Rate

0.68

0.68

0.68

0.68

Base Rate

Supplementary Payments

17.14

18.17

18.72

19.28

Meal Allowance

13.27

13.27

13.27

13.27

Refreshment Allowance

6.63

6.63

6.63

6.63


NB: The above table does not include Travelling Compensation Allowances.