March 12, 2010

Inside this issue:

  • Retained members left out of “modern” award
  • Intentions clear from Workplace Culture Survey
  • SASS and SSS (self imposed) rip-off
  • LabourStart’s video of the year


Retained members left out of “modern” award

Despite there being more than 3000 such employees in NSW alone, the federal modern award makes no reference to retained firefighters or retained conditions of employment. How did this happen? Lack of consultation and incompetence from the United Firefighters Union of Australia for a start. This will not have an immediate impact, but if NSWFB employees move from the state to federal IR system the award underpinning our wages and conditions would not cover half our membership. That the Union must now to make submissions to Fair Work Australia in an attempt to remedy this latest UFUA failure once again highlights the UFUA’s irrelevance to NSW firefighters.

Intentions clear from Workplace Culture Survey

The Union approved a final version of the workplace culture survey prior to publication, which left us more than a little surprised to discover that the survey posted on the intranet was not the same. The significant change was to deliberately separate Station Officers’ and Captains’ views from those of firefighters, revealing the Department’s real intentions on future culture change. The Department’s push to drive a wedge between firefighters and Station Commanders by turning the latter into fully blown management reps has been underway for several years now. This latest shift, while subtle, follows on from last year’s demand that Station Officers must participate as management reps in attendance management interviews (which in turn throws up interesting questions when the Station Officer is also the station’s Union Delegate). It’s one thing to be the operational commander of a fire crew. It’s another thing altogether to expect these members to act as HR managers, taking on entirely different roles that are presently the responsibility of senior management. This is culture change that should be stopped now in order to preserve the Brigades’ cohesiveness, teamwork and comradeship.

SASS and SSS (self-imposed) rip off

Members in SASS or SSS were reminded in SITREP 24/2009 that their superannuation contributions could be salary sacrificed. At the latest Public Sector Superannuation Committee meeting, the Union was advised that the take up rate of salary sacrificing for SSS members was only 66%, and for SASS members was a disturbingly low 40%. Salary sacrificing your SASS or SSS contributions often means significant tax benefits. If you haven’t looked into it, you could be ripping yourself off.

What have the unions ever done for us?

Take a couple of minutes to check out the contenders for LabourStart’s video of the year and vote for Australia’s ‘What have the unions ever done for us?’ online at www.labourstart.org/lvoty/vote.shtml

Jim Casey

State Secretary