July 13, 2003

Inside this notice:

  • SGM to be held re SOPP
  • Carrying over marks from previous pre entry tests
  • Merit selection and eligibility lists
  • Discriminatory Dept. forced to pay up
  • New Commissioner

Promotions #1 : SGM to be held re SOPP

A petition has been circulating amongst permanent stations requesting the State Secretary to call a Special General Meeting of members to consider two questions relating to the SOPP. For members who aren’t aware, Rule 11(2) of our Union’s registered rules provides that If a request in writing by at least fifty financial members of the Union or such lesser number as determined by the State Committee of Management to call a Special General Meeting of the Union to consider a specified question or questions is given to the State Secretary, the State Committee of Management shall cause a Special General Meeting to be held as soon as practicable.”

With almost 100 requests received by the time of writing, the 50 financial member requirement of Rule 11 has more than been met. An SGM will therefore now be called to allow members the opportunity to vote on the two following member-proposed questions:

1.         “That all members of the New South Wales Fire Brigade Employees’ Union boycott all future Pre Entry Tests for the Station Officers Promotional Program, including its current selection format, until such time as an agreed system is developed by the NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and the NSW Fire Brigades that is fair and equitable for all candidates and which provides the delivery of appropriate education and review necessary for promotion to the rank of Station Officer. Furthermore, that  the 2003 Station Officers Promotional Program be immediately abolished and replaced with the format/selection criteria from the 1996 Station Officers examination, that guaranteed promotion to all candidates who achieved a pass mark of 65% or higher. That all candidates who achieved an overall mark of 65% or higher in both the 2002 and 2003 Station Officers Promotional Program Pre Entry Test be immediately placed on a Leading Firefighter list, as per the 1996 Station Officers examination, awaiting placement on the Station Officers Promotional Program in order of their current results.”

2.         “In the interest of fulfilling obligations under the OH&S Act, and the NSW Fire Brigades Duty of Care to firefighters and the community, that the examination papers of all candidates who sat the 2002 and 2003 SOPP Pre Entry Assessment are returned to those candidates and that comprehensive reviews and information relevant to reaching the required entry standard be made available by the Professional Development Unit to each and every candidate on request.”

This SGM’s meeting details (and the State Committee’s recommendations) will be determined at the next State Committee meeting to be held Friday 27 June, with members being advised by way of a further Union notice asap thereafter.

In the interim, however, the Union has already raised the problems referred to in the 2nd motion (above) with the Department and whilst no formal agreement has yet been reached, it’s possible that discussions set down for next week will lead to the release of all candidates’ papers. Further, we were today advised that all unsuccessful candidates were written to yesterday by the PDU, so it appears that there’s at least some light at the end of the SOPP tunnel. More to follow.

Promotions #2 : Carrying marks over from previous Pre Entry Tests

There’s been a bit of controversy of late amongst the membership as to whether or not unsuccessful candidates from a Pre Entry Test (SOPP or IPP) should be permitted to carry over some or all of their marks from one Pre Entry Test to the next.

Whilst there are probably good arguments both for and against this occurring, the Department’s current policy is that it is allowed – provided that there isn’t more than 12 months between the first and second Pre Entry Test. This has presented a problem for Station Officer members sitting next week’s IPP Pre Entry Test, because the last IPP Pre Entry test was held (through no fault of the members concerned) back in 2001. At its last meeting on May 30, the State Committee debated this issue and resolved:

“That until determined otherwise, the State Committee considers that unsuccessful candidates for Station Officers’ and Inspectors’ Pre-Entry Tests should be permitted to ‘carry over’ their marks from one Pre-Entry Test to the next Pre-Entry Test (only), regardless of the period of time between that first and the second Pre-Entry Test.”

The Union is therefore supporting the ability of unsuccessful candidates from the last IPP to carry over some or all of their marks from that Pre-Entry Test to next week’s Pre-Entry Test. In fairness to all candidates, the Union and the Department today both agreed that this question needs to be resolved prior to Friday’s Pre-Entry Test and a meeting to do so has been arranged for this coming Monday, 16 June. Given the timeframe involved, IPP candidates who are wanting to know the outcome of that meeting should telephone the Union Office on or after Monday afternoon.

 Promotions #3 : Merit Selection and eligibility lists

 The State Committee last month also adopted a policy (which has since been accepted by the Department) concerning the length of effect of so-called “eligibility lists”. These are lists of initially unsuccessful candidates who are graded in order of “merit” from the initial interview process (ie, 2, 3, 4, etc.), and who can be appointed to a another vacancy in the same position without the need for a new round in interviews.

 Prior to the State Committee’s decision there was no clear “use-by-date” for these lists, with some Regions saying they lasted for 12 months and others only 6 months. The new policy is that all eligibility lists will have a shelf-life of only 6 months, following which a new round of applications and interviews will be required.

 Promotions #4 : Discriminatory Dept. forced to pay up

 Well, it’s a promotion of sorts! The following article appeared in today’s Workforce NSW:

 “A one-eyed fireman awarded $10,000 general damages in May for being discriminated against by the NSW Fire Brigades has been awarded an extra $21,851 for economic loss. The amount is $11,626 for standard wages lost and $10,224 for overtime lost between Sept 1999 and May 2003. In its May decision, which the Fire Brigades has since appealed, the Admin Decisions Tribunal found the man was denied promotions and training because of his disability. It had left parties to calculate economic loss.”

 We’re happy to report that the Department, which is refusing to accept the verdict, copped another bloody nose this afternoon when its application to have our member’s $31,851 in damages stayed (ie, not paid) was thrown out. Our application for costs against the Dept. (which exceed $100K) will be filed next week, and the Dept’s disgraceful appeal-proper will be heard on 18/19 August. More to follow.

Promotions #5 : New Commissioner

 Our hearty congratulations go to Comrade Greg Mullins on the announcement of his appointment this week as the Brigades’ next Commissioner. Greg is the first firefighter to head the NSWFB (the old Chief Officer was never the CEO), and the first FBEU member to do so too. We aren’t (and shouldn’t be) expecting overnight miracles, but we do anticipate a significantly improved working relationship with Commissioner Mullins come next month.

 Chris Read

State Secretary