January 7, 2005

Inside this notice:

  • Special Case update
  • Extra consolidated leave
  • Sick leave monitoring
  • Retained SASS members and D&D
  • Drug and Alcohol Policy

Special Case Update

The Union’s Special Case application (filed back in April 2004) for a 10% per annum wage increase over 3 years has now finally been formally listed before a Full Bench of the Industrial Relations Commission.

The Union has been directed to file our evidence by 28 February 2005.  The case itself will be heard by the Full Bench from 12 – 22 July 2005 and 11 -12 October 2005. The permanent award expires on 23 February 2005, and the retained award on 31 March 2005, giving rise to the issue of when our next pay rise will apply from. Our position of course is that it should be from 24 February and 1 April respectively, although the IRC is not bound to follow this.

On the other hand if the Department agreed with our position it would be unlikely that the IRC would decide differently. Given the Commissioner’s oft-stated desire to give us a pay rise, and not delay it, we would assume that the Department won’t disagree with the Union’s position, but we could be wrong.

Whilst all this is going on, the Union will continue to negotiate with the Department on whether a consent award can be reached. As always, if there is any agreement in principle, it will be put before the membership for your acceptance or rejection.

Most of the Union’s resources, especially over the next couple of months, will be directed at these Special Case preparations and negotiations. It would therefore be appreciated if members could keep all but urgent inquiries, phone calls, faxes and emails to the Union Office to a minimum during this time.

Obviously, there remain a huge number of other important issues currently before the Union. It is also a fact that the Union has a total of 7 full time staff, compared to the hundreds in NSWFB management and the NSW Government who are lined up against us in this case (and on a daily basis). The assistance of members in this regard is greatly appreciated.

Extra Consolidated Leave

As outlined in our Notice dated 25 August 2004 (under the heading “Briefly”), the two additional gazetted public holidays over the ’04/’05 New Year period (28 December 2004 and 3 January 2005) will see an additional 16 hours of consolidated leave credited to all permanent members, as per the provisions of clause 6.4 of the Award.

Sick Leave Monitoring

Just before Christmas, Scrooge style, a number of members received letters from the Department telling them that their sick leave was being monitored. All these members did was access their entitlements under the award and provide the relevant medical certificates.

The Union raised the issue with the Department and highlighted how offensive these letters were to members who have done nothing wrong. The Department claims that they are only trying to provide the best care possible to members, which is a bit hard to believe given that these letters have arrived up to six months after the event.

These letters are nothing more than a big brother, we’re watching you approach to health and furthermore a pointless exercise. If the Department are really serious about members’ health and wellbeing they would afford members the dignity of taking the necessary sick leave required to recover and allow them to return to work in a stress free manner.

Members should fax these letters to the Union Office on 9267 6304.

Retained SASS Members and D&D

Over the last few months members have received D&D Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) outlining the details of death and TPI entitlements. It has come to the Union’s attention that retained SASS members who have called the 1800 number provided in the PDS have been told that they have no entitlements under D&D and that they should try to get their money back from the Department.

This is not the case; all retained members are (and always have been) entitled to the PPI on duty and off duty benefits and should contact the Union for more information. Whilst retained members who are also SASS members with ABC (or members of other public sector defined benefit schemes) by virtue of their primary employment have been excluded from death and TPI cover, the Union has now negotiated a variation to the D&D award which will remove this exclusion. The award will be varied formally by the IRC within the next few weeks.

Drug and Alcohol Policy

Members are reminded that the Drug and Alcohol policy is in effect all year, and not just over the Christmas period. What the Department failed to tell you in the PSCU’s Christmas message is the rights that members have under the award and the rehabilitation services identified in the Drug and Alcohol Policy.

The policy is not designed to be a discipline tool but rather an intervention policy to ensure the health and safety of members. Members cannot be disciplined for alcohol consumption and drug use off shift, and there are a number of stages of intervention for members who are believed to be intoxicated on shift or who have consumed alcohol on Brigade property.

If members have any concerns regarding the D&A policy they should contact the Union Office.

Craig Harris
Acting State Secretary        Friday 7 January 2005