February 26, 2010

agreementInside this issue:

  • Waratah Dispute settled with new stations and extra jobs
  • Drug and alcohol protocol
  • All permanent members fined today

Waratah dispute settled with new stations and extra jobs

The Union’s State Committee yesterday endorsed the staffing package developed over the preceding three weeks in negotiations with the Department. As a result of this agreement:

  • The increase from S/O and 3 on Special Roster (ie day-shift) staffing to S/O and 3 on the 10/14 Roster at Toronto (MN1) will remain in place; and
  • The new Holmesville station (MN1) that was scheduled to open in May this year with S/O and 3 on the Special Roster will instead now be opening with S/O and 3 on the 10/14 Roster; and
  • Staffing at five additional stations – Ballina, Cessnock, Maitland, Nelson Bay and Batemans Bay – will increase within 6 months to S/O and 3 permanent firefighters working the Special Roster; and
  • The 6 LSV’s will in future be staffed by permanent members on suitable duties, thereby allowing injured members to stay on the 10/14 rather than working day shift in the Zone Office; and
  • The Union will now support a revised plan for Newcastle and Lake Macquarie which will see the relocation of five retained stations and three permanent stations (including Hazmat), the construction of three new stations, no loss of retained jobs and forty additional permanent jobs.

But what about Waratah, you ask? Regrettably Waratah will not re-open, but this agreement does better than simply maintaining members’ jobs in the Zone – it enhances them. Whereas before we had one day-shift station (Toronto) and one 10/14 station (Waratah), we’ll now have two 10/14 stations at Toronto and Holmesville. And plenty more to follow.

Drug and Alcohol Protocol

Our joint NSWFB/FBEU Drug and Alcohol Protocol has brought significant cultural change since it was first introduced in 1998. In short, it works. Unfortunately the Department this week confirmed its desire to “review” the Protocol in what appears to be a case of pre-emptive blame shifting (aka “arse-covering”) in anticipation of even more bad press. Rest assured that the Union will not allow members to become the scapegoats for management’s failure to manage.

The current D&A Protocol is fair; is focused on prevention and rehabilitation rather than discipline; is geared to member control of the workplace, and; if used is clearly capable of delivering a workplace free of drugs and alcohol. There is a warning system for those who might offend the Protocol on a ‘one-off’ basis, allowing such members time to reassess their approach to the issue of drugs and alcohol in the workplace without facing disciplinary proceedings and significantly, it enables members who are concerned about potential breaches in the workplace to be able to act without the fear of landing their comrades in disciplinary proceedings.

The Union drove the D&A Protocol over a decade ago because our job is dangerous enough without the additional risk of drugs and alcohol in our industry. If you suspect there are D&A issues in your station then use the Protocol. If you’re not sure how the Protocol works, or how to act on it, then contact your Union for advice.

All permanent members fined today

Prior to last year, permanent award increases took effect at the commencement of the first pay period occurring on or after 24 February each year. However, under the 2008 Award the operative date for increases was extended by 16 weeks, or 8 pay periods, to the first pay period on or after 18 June each year. The Award’s expiry date was blown out by 16 weeks, too.

When the Union agreed to arbitration in February 2008, it did so with a crystal clear and – we thought – water-tight agreement that the February operative dates would not be challenged. Six months later, and at the very end of that arbitration, the Department completely abandoned the agreement that it had made in February by arguing instead for September operative dates. In an outrageous judgment, the Full Bench decided to grab hold of the fig-leaf of an argument that one day of FBEU bans back in June meant that the previous agreement for February dates was null and void. The Full Bench then went on to use that one day of bans as the basis for all future operative dates for increases.

The treachery of the Department and plainly unfair decision of the Full Bench has resulted in what is effectively an ongoing fine for every member, every year until the February operative date is restored. The table below shows the cost of this outrageous penalty for each member, by rank, in 2010. It follows that we’re up for more of the same in 2011.

Classification Cost of 16 week delay
Recruit Firefighter $611.11
Firefighter Level 1 $708.72
Firefighter Level 2 $748.10
Qualified Firefighter $787.47
Senior Firefighter $818.98
Leading Firefighter $881.98
Station Officer Level 1 $944.93
Station Officer Level 2 $984.36
Inspector $1,181.21
Superintendent $1,469.29
Chief Superintendent $1,587.51
Operational Support L1 $893.50
Operational Support L2 $1,056.21
Operational Support L3 $1,283.85

Member service – Union Shopper

Union Shopper is a shopping service established by unions nearly 30 years ago to provide our associated members, including members of the FBEU, with discounts and savings on a wide range of products and services through Union Shopper preferred suppliers. Their service is available nationwide and further information cant be found on their website www.unionshopper.com or by calling 1300 368 117.


Jim Casey
State Secretary