July 5, 2003

Inside this notice:

  • SOPP/IPP Entitlements win
  • Union secures backdating of LF promotions
  • New salary packaging arrangements in place
  • SASS ABC contributions
  • SGM to be held 30 July
  • Industrial WMD

SOPP / IPP Entitlements Win

Further to our notice of 1 May, further negotiations have led the Department to accept that Pre-Entry Tests are in fact “examinations or assessments”, and that Clause 16 of the Award does therefore apply to all members who sit the SOPP and IPP Pre-Entry Tests. That’s over $200K clawed back for SF candidates (from the last PET alone) which wouldn’t have been paid had it not been for your Union.

Members who’ve sat any of these tests (both this year and last) should lodge your claim in the normal manner in accordance with our notice of 29 April. Of course if your claim is rejected then you should contact the Union office.

Union secures backdating of LF promotions

When In Orders 2003/12 appeared listing the date of promotion of the 36 Leading Firefighters resulting from the last SOPP Pre-Entry Test as being 30 May, the Union entered into negotiations with the Department on the matter. It was eventually agreed that the date of promotion (and therefore, of the payrise) would be backdated by one pay period to 16 May. Whilst the Department was expected to make the necessary adjustment to members’ pays (which was to be $154.70 per member) automatically, members should check their pay slips to ensure this occurred.


New salary packaging arrangements in place

Further to our notice of 9 April, negotiations for expanded salary sacrifice options for all members came into effect following the Union’s application for amendments to both the permanent and retained Awards on 16 June. Firefighters (and all NSW Government employees) may now elect to package up to 50% of salary or wages through the following additional  benefits (ie, on top of superannuation):

motor vehicles (novated leases only), housing (remote areas only), priority of access fee for child care, professional subscriptions, taxi expenses, bus/rail ticket loans, education (self/professional) and laptops, palms and briefcases.

For items other than superannuation (including D&D contributions) and bus/rail ticket loans, the arrangements will be handled by an external provider, McMillan Shakespeare, and attract administration fees. For example, a package including a motor vehicle will cost a participating member $5.50 per week in such fees. Superable salary will continue to be as per your pre-packaging salary.

The Department is still finalising its side of the deal with McMillan Shakespeare, but is expected to announce further details of the new salary packaging arrangements within the next 4-6 weeks. McMillan Shakespeare is also expected to launch its own information package for members on or around that time. In the interim, further information about these new salary sacrifice options can be found at:

McMillan Shakespeare Australia              www.mcms.com.au

NSW Premier’s Department                       www.premiers.nsw.gov.au

It needs to be stressed that the tax effectiveness of salary packaging will depend on individual circumstances and in some cases, may not be tax effective. Members should always obtain independent financial advice as to whether a particular package is suitable for their situation. Please remember that the Union is not a licensed financial adviser, and is therefore unable to provide such advice.

SASS ABC contributions

Several members have contacted the Union in recent weeks after being advised that they would not be able to drop their ABC cover, even if they had opted to do so in their recent D&D nomination. Not surprisingly, this has left many SASS members confused.

To clear this up, the SASS legislation is in the process of being amended to allow firefighters (only) the ability to opt out of ABC. In the meantime, affected members will continue to pay for both their ABC cover and their full D&D cover, however any amount which is deducted from your SASS account for ABC between 27 June 2003 and the date upon which the legislative amendments take affect will be refunded. Whilst this may take a few more weeks to be finally sorted, the bottom line is that if you chose to drop ABC in favour of the full D&D cover then you effectively stopped paying for your ABC last Friday.

SABRE Program

When the Union met with the co-ordinator of the smoke alarm installation project for culturally and linguistically diverse communities, we were assured that participation in this program was on a strictly voluntary basis. We have since been advised that some members/stations are being told otherwise. Members who, after the issuing of this notice, are again warned by management that they must participate in this program are urged to contact the Union office immediately, because it’s likely that the entire program will then be banned.

SGM to be held 30 July

A Special General Meeting will be held in Sydney at 1000 hours on Wednesday 30 July to consider and vote on the recent member-sponsored motions re promotional systems, and several motions from the Union’s State Committee (including those concerning upcoming Award negotiations). A full agenda, and Sub-Branch meeting details, will be circulated to all stations/workplaces in the week commencing 21 July.

Industrial WMDs

What price “freedom”? News last week that the Bush administration has appointed a US law firm that prides itself on busting unions and breaking pickets to “help” the post-Taliban Afghan Government draft the country’s new industrial laws. The firm’s website boasts that “We help employers maintain a union-free environment, conduct collective bargaining negotiations, secure injunctive relief from strikes, boycotts, and mass picketing, and develop compliance programs.” Meanwhile, the World Bank is arguing  “to promote investment in Afghanistan” by slashing the minimum wage there by 10%. Iraqi workers are doubtless destined for similar treatment in the near future.

 Chris Read

State Secretary