December 22, 1999

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
(Ref: 95/036 / CHO 01650)

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