December 24, 1999

1. Dept. to Union, 21/09/99

Mr Chris Read
State Secretary
NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ Union
267 Sussex Street
SYDNEY NSW 2001

21 September, 1999

Dear Chris,

PAYMENT OF SALARIES–CHRISTMAS / NEW YEAR 1999.

I wish to draw to your attention the proposed manner of payment for Departmental employees’ salaries over the December 1999, January 2000 period.

Normally, when more than one public holiday occurs in a week, such as Christmas / New Year, it has been past practice to pay staff only their normal basic salaries. Timesheet allowances are then paid to staff in the following pay period. This is because there is insufficient time to produce and check payrolls for payment to be made on normal due dates.

Because of the contingency arrangements necessary regarding the year 2000 issue, the normal practices relating to Christmas payments needs to be addressed, and it is proposed that all Admin / Trades and operational staff be paid TWO normal basic fortnightly pays for January 2000, together with a normal basic fortnightly pay for period ending 30 December, 1999 on 30 December, 1999.

The specifics of this proposal are outlined in the attached draft In-Order.

Notification of these arrangements will be relayed to staff by way of publication in In-Orders.

It would be appreciated if you would formally advise of your concurrence to these arrangements as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

I D Mac Dougall AC
Commissioner.

 


 

2. Union to Dept., 21/10/99

21 October 1999

Mr Ian MacDougall
Commissioner
New South Wales Fire Brigades
PO Box A249
SYDNEY SOUTH NSW 1232

Att: Mr Trevor Craft, ADES

Dear Sir,

Re: Payment of Salaries between Xmas/New Year 1999/2000

I refer to your letter dated 21 September (and received in this office on 28 September), concerning proposed special payment arrangements for this year’s Christmas/New Year period. A copy of that letter is attached.

Normally the Union has had no objections to the past special pay arrangements because they have been reasonable in all the circumstances ( see copies of the special Xmas/New Year pay arrangements for the last 3 years ). However we do have objections to the Department’s proposals as contained in your letter of 21/9/99. Therefore our concurrence to those proposals is denied at this stage.

As the Department’s StarGarden Human Resources/Payroll system is Year 2000 compliant(using the Department’s own words in the draft In Order), the Union can see no valid reason why firefighters should be denied casual overtime and performance related allowances for the whole month of January. This has never been the case in the past and should not be the case this year. Also, we cannot see how (using the Department’s own words in the draft In Order) other outside influences e.g, electricity supply, water supply can possibly justify denying firefighters casual overtime and performance related allowances for the whole month of January 2000.

However, the Union believes that one of the following two compromise proposals would satisfy both our concerns, as follows:

Proposal 1

From (and including) pay period 30/12/99 until pay period ending 27/1/2000, all firefighters would be paid in advance their normal basic pay (rostered overtime and qualification allowances) on 30/12/1999. Payment would be made to a member’s normal financial institution. This would be premised on the basis that there might be Y2K problems affecting the financial institutions. If it transpires that there are no problems with the financial institutions from early January 2000, then all firefighters shall be paid all outstanding casual overtime earned in the preceding pay periods. That is, on the pay period ending 13/1/2000, payment would be made to all firefighters who worked casual overtime and who have performance related allowances owing to them for the preceding affected pay periods. Normal full pay would occur from pay period ending 27/1/2000 and thereafter.

OR

Proposal 2

From (and including) pay period 30/12/99 until pay period ending 27/1/2000, all firefighters would be paid IN CASH in advance their normal basic pay (rostered overtime and qualification allowances) on 30/12/1999. This would be premised on the basis that there might be Y2K problems affecting the financial institutions. If it transpires that there are no problems with the financial institutions from early January 2000, then all firefighters shall be paid all outstanding casual overtime earned in the preceding pay periods. That is, on the pay period ending 13/1/2000, payment would be made to all firefighters who worked casual overtime and who have performance related allowances owing to them for the preceding affected pay periods. Normal full pay would occur from pay period ending 27/1/2000 and thereafter.

I look forward to your early response to our alternative proposals.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Read
State Secretary

 


 

3. Dept. to Union, 22/11/99

Mr Chris Read
State Secretary
NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ Union
267 Sussex Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000

22 November 1999

Dear Chris,

PAYMENT OF SALARIES–CHRISTMAS 1999/ JANUARY 2000

I refer to my letter of 21 September 1999 and the letter in response from the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (FBEU) dated 21 October 1999, in relation to the proposed manner of payment for New South Wales Fire Brigades employees’ salaries over the Christmas 1999/ January 2000 period.

The Department has considered the proposals advanced by the FBEU, but believes that the arrangements set out in the draft Departmental In-Order previously forwarded to the FBEU is the best arrangement in all the circumstances.

The Department has had special pay arrangements with the FBEU dating back to Christmas 1986. Up to Christmas 1989, Brigades’ staff were paid a fortnight’s salary in advance together with their normal pay immediately before Christmas. Staff then waited until the next regular pay for the payment of their casual overtime etc.

With the StarGarden Human Resources & Payroll system, when pays are paid in advance, it is not possible to pay casual overtime and performance related allowances until the next regular pay is produced. The payroll process relates overtime, etc. to ordinary or regular pay for that particular period, and therefore cannot be processed separately, as the FBEU is advocating. If the Department pays in advance the pays for the periods ending 13 and 27 January 2000, the earliest date that casual overtime, etc. can be paid is on 10 February 2000.

The StarGarden Human Resources & Payroll system has been tested for, and is certified as Y2K compliant. The Department’s proposed manner of payment is designed to minimise, to the extent that it is within the influence of the Department, any disruption to payment of salaries and salary processing for its employees that may arise from Y2K problems affecting the operation of financial institutions. Patently, this issue has not arisen previously. The Department considers that paying in advance the pays for the periods ending 13 and 27 January 2000, and then making payment for casual overtime, etc. on 10 February 2000 is the most prudent approach to take.

I trust the information contained in this letter has addressed the points raised in the FBEU’s letter of 21 October, as the Department desires to implement its proposed approach.

Yours sincerely,

I D Mac DougaII AC
Commissioner

 


 

4. Union to Dept., 08/12/99

8th December, 1999

Mr. Ian MacDougall
Commissioner
New South Wales Fire Brigades
PO BOX A249
SYDNEY SOUTH NSW 1232

(Attn: Mr. Laurie Camilleri)

Dear Sir,

Re: Payment of Salaries – Christmas 1999/January 2000

I refer to your correspondence of November 22 concerning the subject matter, and write in confirmation of our earlier verbal advice that the Union has rejected the Department’s proposed pay arrangements for this coming Christmas/New Year period in favour of the status-quo, being those pay arrangements which applied last year.

The Union notes that firefighters’ pay arrangements are set out quite clearly in the Award which, unless agreement to do otherwise exists, remain binding on the parties. The Union therefore expects those arrangements which were set out in correspondence from the Department to the Union dated 13 October 1998, having regard of course to the adjustments necessary to take account of the change in applicable dates between this year and last, to apply.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Read
State Secretary

 


 

5. Dept. to Union, 15/12/99

Mr Chris Read
State Secretary
NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ union
267 Sussex Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000

15 December, 1999

Dear Mr Read

Payment of Salaries – Christmas 1999/January 2000

I refer to your letter dated 8 December, 1999 with regard to the payment of wages and salaries over the period December 1999 and January 2000.

I would take this opportunity to make a number of observations on this issue and to inform you of the method of payment to be adopted by the Department for the period in question.

The Department recognises its obligations as stipulated in clause 6.8.1 of the Crown Employees (NSW Fire Brigades Firefighting Staff) Award 1997 and will ensure that its procedures are consistent with this provision. In consequence, the Department considers that it needs to withdraw the option of payment in advance for firefighters proceeding on Annual or Long Service Leave.

The Department believes that the pay procedures as first outlined in the draft In-Orders which envisaged payment of normal base salaries ((excluding casual overtime and allowances) for 30/12/1999, 13/01/2000 and 27/01/2000 on 30/12/1999, with adjustments for casual overtime and allowances on the 10/2/2000 was the safest way of ensuring payment to Firefighters over the Y2K period.

Taking into account the requirement of clause 6.8.1 of the Award and minimisation of possible Y2K problems, the Department will now process pay in the following manner:-

16/12/99 – Normal pay, including all overtime and allowances

30/12/99 – Normal basic pay including rostered overtime and qualification allowances for Brigades staff, but will not include casual overtime and performance related allowances.

13/01/2000 – The same as 30/12/1999.

27/01/2000 – An ordinary pay including regular pay plus timesheet input for periods 16/12/1999, 30/12/1999 and 13/01/2000 (ie adjustments for casual overtime and allowances).

10/02/2000 – Standard payment system.

The procedures outlined above will allow for fortnightly payments and an adjustment date brought forward from 10/02/2000 to 27/01/2000.

I trust that the revised procedures have addressed the concerns of the FBEU.

Yours sincerely,

I D Mac Dougall AC
Commissioner

 


 

6. Union To Dept., 22/12/99

22nd December 1999

Mr. Ian MacDougall
Commissioner
New South Wales Fire Brigades
PO Box A249
SYDNEY SOUTH NSW 1232

Att: Stuart McMartin

Dear Sir,

Re: Payment of Salaries – Christmas 1999 / January 2000

I refer to your correspondence dated 15 December 1999 (received 21 December 1999) with regard to the payment of salaries over the period December 1999 and January 2000.

The history of cooperation between the Department and the Union on pay matters during this period dates back to 1986 as is indicated in your correspondence dated 22 November 1999. Indeed, an analysis of the past five years indicates that the Department and the Union have continually agreed to a one fortnight delay in members accessing their overtime. (see your file CHO/01650).

This year it seems that the Union’s history of cooperation and the members’ flexibility is to be flagrantly abused in what can only be described as a unilateral (and unlawful) variation of:

 

  • the Crown Employees (NSWFB Firefighting Staff) Award;

 

  • the Industrial Relations Act 1996 (NSW);

 

  • the Annual Holidays Act 1944;

 

  • the Long Service Leave Act 1955 &

 

  • industry custom and practice. 

     

The Union has continued to offer the Department the same flexibility as past years on this matter (eg. Two weeks grace for overtime etc). In spite of this, the Department has arrogantly published in the In Orders (1999/27) that members will have to wait one month extra before they receive entitlements pursuant to the abovementioned Award.

 

This arrogance has been compounded by a further unilateral change to the long-standing practice of paying members in advance for long service leave and annual leave. Yesterday a Departmental Officer indicated that the reason for changing this long standing and near universal procedure is that it represented a breach of the Award. If this is indeed the reason then we can only assume that the Department will provide an affidavit to the Chief Industrial Magistrate stating this. If however, this unilateral act resulted from a petty and ill considered ‘get square’ then may I remind you of the provisions of current State legislation in the form of the Annual Holidays Act 1944 & the Long Service Leave Act 1955:

Annual Holidays Act 1944

Clause 3 (6) (b): The employer shall pay each worker in advance before the commencement of the worker’s annual holiday, the worker’s ordinary pay for the holiday period.

Similar provisions are found in the Long Service Leave Act 1955 at section 7 (a).

The Union seeks the immediate retraction of the unlawful In Order and the production of manual cheques on demand for members already Affected by the Department’s unilateral change to pay in advance arrangements. With respect to the changes in pay arrangements for the Christmas period, the Union again demands that the Department abide by the Award and long standing practice and retreat from its current arrogant stance. Failure to do so will be dealt with accordingly.

Given the time sensitive nature of these issues, please advise the Union by 11.00am 23rd December 1999 as to your intentions with respect to both of these matters.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Read
State Secretary

 


 

7. Dept. to Union, 23/12/99

23 December 1999

Mr Chris Read
State Secretary
NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union
267 Sussex Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000

Dear Mr Read

Payment of Salaries – Christmas 1999 / January 2000.

I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 22 December, 1999.

Thank you for drawing the provisions of the Annual Holidays Act 1944 (NSW) and the Long Service Leave Act 1955 (NSW) to our attention.

For your information, all aspects of payment of leave is being addressed and you will be advised of the Department’s position within the next few days.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to make the adjustment payment on 13 January 2000 as suggested in your letter. The reasoning behind this is that the Brigades’ network and both StarGarden and StarFire are to be switched off by noon on 30 December 1999 to safeguard system integirty over the December/January changeover. They will be switched on again on either Sunday 2 or Monday 3 January and should be left for approximately 24 hours to allow testing of the hardware and software before using for processing purposes. Therefore, without any undue issues arising StarGarden will not be avialable until either late on 4 or first thing on 5 January.

If any issues occur which require Digital’s site attendance (hardware supplies) their staff will not be able to visit until 4 January as the Brigades’ maintenance agreement with them is for their attendance on working days only.

The above scenario, should site attendance be required, is a best case one for the Department is but one of many customers of Digital, and there is no guarantee that our place on the list will be high in priorities, vis-à-vis the private sector or other public sector customers.

In addition, this Christmas/New Year period is a difficult one with regard to the processing of the Payroll function, due to the leave that occurs in the period, namely:

 

  • Friday 24 December, 1999 (Half day concessional leave)

 

  • Monday 27 December 1999 (Public Holiday)

 

  • Tuesday 28 December 1999 (Public Holiday)

 

  • Wednesday 29 December 1999 (Public Service Holiday)

 

  • Friday 31 December 1999 (Half day Public Holiday)

 

  • Monday 3 January 2000 (Public Holiday) 

     

This scenario effectively leaves one day between 24 December, 1999 and 3 January, 2000 (that being Thursday 30 December, 1999) in which to perform Payroll functions, and even that day is affected by the half day computer shutdown. This occurrence is markedly different to the situation over the past several years.

 

In consequence, the effect of the computer shut down and the leave precludes the Department this year meeting your request.

I hope that the above explains the Department’s position.

Yours sincerely,

I D Mac Dougall AC
Commissioner

 


 

8. Dept. to Union, 24/12/99

24 December 1999

Mr Chris Read
State Secretary
NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union
267 Sussex Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000

Dear Mr Read

RE: PAYMENT OF SALARIES PRIOR TO COMMENCEMENT OF LEAVE

I refer to your letter of 22 December and our reply dated 23 December, 1999.

In the latter, I stated that I would inform you of the Departmental position concerning payment of leave generally. Accordingly, after careful consideration I am of the belief that the Department is not in breach of any of the legislation outlined in your correspondence and therefore, the practice as detailed in my letter of 15 December, 1999 will continue to apply.

Yours sincerely,

I D Mac Dougall AC
Commissioner

 


 

9. Union to Dept., 24/12/99

24th December, 1999

Mr. Ian MacDougall
Commissioner
New South Wales Fire Brigades
PO BOX A249
SYDNEY SOUTH NSW 1232

Dear Commissioner,

Re: Payment of salaries prior to commencement of leave

Scrooge is indeed alive and well. You can take full satisfaction in having now ruined the holidays of many of our members and their families.

It is entirely reasonable that our members would have objected to being paid once in six weeks as you had originally proposed, and that we would instead rely upon our Award entitlement to fortnightly pay. It is by the same token totally unreasonable that you, acting out of nothing more than malice and spite, have now unilaterally withdrawn the entitlement of firefighters to be paid in advance of annual and long service leave.

We are confident that you are technically wrong in this matter, and it is beyond question that you are both industrially and morally wrong here. Rest assured, we will not allow this latest act of bastardry on your Department’s part to go unchallenged – you will be hearing from us.

Compliments of the Season,

Chris Read
State Secretary