February 27, 2017

Inside this issue:

  • Rejected Permanent Award – some things worth keeping
  • Review of rejected On-Call Allowance
  • Newcastle Communications Centre
  • FWC shafts workers on penalty rates
  • Berejiklian’s banking buddies’ budget breakout

Rejected Permanent Award – some things worth keeping

Last week’s State Committee monthly meeting conducted an in-depth review of this month’s SGM and resolved to no longer explore or pursue the following elements of the rejected Permanent Award:

  • the Department’s proposed trial of banked leave (the option of voluntary leave accrual in lieu of payment for overtime);
  • the reform of Clause 9, Overtime to replace the 2 and 4 hour minimum payments with a single 3 hour minimum payment for any recall;
  • the insertion of a new subclause 17a.5 allowing members the ability cash out accrued consolidated leave; and
  • although it was withdrawn prior to the SGM and therefore not subject to a membership vote, the reform of the Leading Firefighter rank to allow members at that rank (only) to work across two platoons at their own station (only) and increase the LF wage relativity from 112% to 115%.

The State Committee also concluded that there were numerous other aspects of that proposal which appeared to have had widespread support in their own right, and which therefore should continue to be explored, including:

  • the insertion at subclause 7.5.1 of the ability of Leading Firefighters on the Station Officer Program and Leading Station Officers on the Inspector Program to act-up without limitation;
  • the insertion at subclause 8.10b of minimum and maximum hours over 8 week cycle
  • provisions that apply generally to ensure that members who change platoon or work outside of their roster (for example, standing off to attend training) are not disadvantaged;
  • the insertion at subclause 17.9a to allow members who give 64 weeks or less written notice of their date of resignation (including retirement) to defer taking any annual leave that falls due until immediately prior to leaving, or to instead be paid for that leave on exit;
  • the insertion of new Clause 17a to convert the provisions for the taking of consolidated leave from an employer policy to an Award condition; and
  • the insertion at subclauses 23.9, 23.10 and 23.11 to convert the provisions for the recrediting of annual and long service leave when sick from an employer policy to an Award condition.

The Department agreed to these latter points as part of a Permanent Award package, so its position on them now is unclear. In any event, there will be no agreement reached or Award amendments made without the approval of a subsequent General Meeting of members.

Review of rejected On-Call Allowance  

The State Committee also resolved to conduct a review of the recently proposed but also rejected Clause 9 Permanent Award amendment for new on-call provisions. While the State Committee believed it to be a good proposal, the feedback from at least some affected members said otherwise and it was clearly a factor in their decision to vote no. The State Committee is therefore encouraging all members who are placed and/or expected to be on-call while off duty to submit your comments and suggestions via email to oncall@fbeu.net so we can better understand your concerns and expectations and develop an alternative proposal that is broadly acceptable to affected members.

Newcastle Communication Centre

The State Committee has determined the Permanent Award amendments proposed to the February SGM at subclause 28.6 concerning transfers into and out of Newcastle Comms to have been clarifications of the intended operation of the existing subclause rather than revised arrangements, and therefore resolved to interpret the current Award’s subclause 28.6 in all respects and for purposes in the manner set out in that amendment. Members who are considering transfer into or out of Newcastle Comms, and members attached to Newcastle Comms who are considering applying for LF or LSO positions should consult that amendment and/or contact the Union office for further information.

FWC shafts workers on penalty rates

The Fair Work Commission’s appalling decision last week on penalty rates will deliver huge wage cuts for almost one million workers covered by some Federal Modern Awards. This decision disproportionately hits the lowest paid workers in low-paid sectors (retail, hospitality, restaurants, fast food and pharmacy), already notorious for underpayment and exploitation. One commentator has estimated this decision to mean a $2.6 billion per year transfer from labour to capital.

So what does this mean for us? In a narrow sense, nothing. Firefighters are not in the Federal IR jurisdiction, and our wage rates already incorporate penalty rates. While some FBEU members are also employed in these industries, it doesn’t affect them as firefighters. However, now is not the time for a narrow approach; it will take the entire trade union movement working in solidarity to stand up and defeat regressive anti-worker decisions like this. More to follow.

Berejiklian’s banking buddies’ budget breakout

A recent Sydney Morning Herald report blew the lid on the Berejiklian Government’s Labour Expense Cap (LEC), revealing an explosion in NSW Treasury’s senior executive salaries while the Government has been hawking public assets and slashing jobs in pursuit of a “leaner and more efficient” public sector. The number of top executives at NSW Treasury ballooned by 16 per cent to 144 and their combined salaries jumped by 22.6 per cent to $30.1 million between 2014-15 and 2015-16.

These are the same people demanding over $22 million from FRNSW in LEC savings. The former bankers infesting Treasury preach austerity and wage restraint whilst displaying none themselves.

Meeting processes – update #1

There has been a healthy response to SITREP 9’s call for comments and ideas for improvements to our meeting arrangements, but not enough. Members are again encouraged to submit your comments and ideas via email to voting@fbeu.net prior to the May State Committee meeting, which will conclude its initial review and circulate its report for membership consideration and feedback.

Leighton Drury
State Secretary