December 13, 2014

Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 8.58.30 AMInside this issue:

  • 24 hour shifts and roster flexibility – update #2
  • New improved A/L roster– update #2
  • Retained Engine Keepers here to stay – update #1
  • Monash cancer study results
  • National Movember 000 challenge victory

24 hour shifts and roster flexibility – update #2

The publication of today’s SITREP 42 had been delayed in the hope that a comprehensive agreement for the working of 24 hour shifts, both one-off part-changes an ongoing arrangements, could be announced here. Not yet unfortunately, but we remain hopeful of reaching common ground this week. Clause 12 remains the central sticking point, with the Union and the Department still some distance apart on whether a 24 hour shift is one shift or two for the purposes of the Relieving Allowance, kilometres and outduties, etc. Members can guess which side is arguing which position.

The Union has proposed numerous ways to resolve this impasse, and these are set out in our three separate letters to the Department on this issue over the preceding two weeks. The Department’s sole response, received late yesterday afternoon, is notable for its acceptance of our concessions but its complete silence on any of the other problems/solutions raised by us. Copies of all four letters can be found attached below.

Most of those problems concern the working by an entire station of a 24 hour roster, with 42 Ryde being identified as the first to trial this for 8 weeks commencing 26 December. The Union has received interest to work a 24 hour roster from several other stations (both metro and regional) and supports this occurring, but it remains the Department’s position – at this point at least – to initially trial it at 42 Station only.

On a more positive note, double shifts by way of PCOS are now occurring on a regular basis. One GSA station has started arranging for members on A Platoon to work D Platoon’s first day shift followed by A Platoon’s first night shift (24 hours), with D Platoon members then working their second day shift followed by A Platoon’s second night shift (24 hours). So A Platoon’s members finish their set a day earlier, and D Platoon start their set a day later. This is just one example of the sort of additional flexibility that the new Permanent Award now allows members.

The Department’s previous restriction on only one member per shift/station being able to do this has been lifted, as has our restriction on a 24 hour PCOS having to adjoin a member’s rostered shift. The one restriction that both parties agree is still necessary is the need for any double (ie 24 hour) shift to be worked at the one station. After a few initial hiccups management is now expected to support PCOS requests to work 24 hour shifts wherever possible, so any members experiencing difficulty in having their PCOS applications approved should contact the Union for further advice and assistance.

1. FBEU to Department, 4 December

2. FBEU to Department, 8 December

3. Department to FBEU, 12 December

4. FBEU to Department, 12 December

New improved A/L roster– update #2

SITREP 41 reported that “members on B4 were previously scheduled to commence leave on 26 December, but are now scheduled to commence on 28 December, following their 2nd night shift rather than their 2nd day shift. It has emerged that some B4 members do not want to work these nights and do not want to have use their own leave in order to avoid doing so.”

Commissioner’s Orders 2014/24 the next day advised that “For those firefighters impacted by the change in the immediate future (annual leave groups B4 and C3) annual leave or consolidated leave will be approved for the two shifts that they would previously have been on leave”. This advice mislead some members to believe that they were being short-changed on leave, and was incorrect – at least insofar as consolidated leave was concerned. Members should definitely not use their consolidated leave to take those two nights off, and the Department has now agreed that member who has arranged to do so and who requests that their annual leave is debited instead will be re-credited those 28 hours of consolidated leave.

The next B4 and C3 leave groups were originally scheduled to provide 172 hours of leave (3 full sets of shifts and two night shifts). They will now provide 144 hours of leave (3 full sets only), so while B4 and C3 members will have two nights less leave, they’ll also be deducted 28 hours less leave (and therefore have 28 hours more in their A/L balances). In hindsight it would have been easier for all concerned if the Department’s new roster simply left B4 and C3 undisturbed. Our advice? Use the 28 hours leave credit to take the two nights off as originally scheduled if you like, but whatever you do, do not use your consolidated leave (which is effectively converting consolidated leave into annual leave) to do so.

Retained Engine Keepers here to stay – update #1

Many retained members are lately seeking Union assistance with Engine Keeper appointments at their station. Misconception by Area management (including Business Managers) is the common core to these requests because members are being told, wrongly, that the Engine Keeper position no longer exists.

Whilst the separate rate of pay for Engine Keepers was removed from the 2000 Award, the position remains (as advised in SITREP 15/2009). Engine Keepers are assigned specific authorised duty hours, instead of a different hourly incident rate, as per In Order 2013/6, and any vacancy is filled by merit selection (see sub note 1 of 2013/6 and 1998/2). An Engine Keeper should be appointed for each appliance (i.e. Pumper = 1 EK, Pumper and Tanker = 2 EKs, Pumper, Tanker and Van = 3 EKs) with primary response vehicles (Pumpers and Tankers) each being assigned 1.5 hours authorised duties and all other vehicles (Vans, etc.) 1 hour each.

Stations experiencing difficulty with Engine Keeper appointments and/or authorised duties hours for each appliance should contact RSB Secretary Phil Gardner, a Country Organiser or the Union Office.

Monash cancer study results

Members may be aware that AFAC had funded a three-year study by Monash University into firefighter cancer. That report was released this week, and is now attached in full on the Member’s Forum, together with the report summary and the FAQs which are also attached here below. More to follow.

Monash University Study, Summary

Monash University Study, FAQs

National Movember 000 challenge victory

The Triple Zero Challenge is a competition between different emergency service workers’ Movember teams as to who can raise the most funds for men’s health. This year they collectively raised over $195,000. Once again, the FBEU/FRNSW team again took line honours with an impressive $22,884 in donations.

Congratulations to Marty Dixon, who was selected by an expert panel of judges to win “Best Mo”, and to the Broken Hill members and Rob Hanson who both made it into the top ten 000 fundraisers. Special mention to the Operational Capability members for merging with our team, getting us over the line again, and a big thank you to the team Captain, Comrade Darin Sullivan, who worked hard for this result.

 

Jim Casey
State Secretary