On Saturday, you will be asked to vote for the future of your country. The FBEU has traditionally encouraged its members to vote Labor, however an overwhelming vote by members earlier this year resulted in the FBEU formally disaffiliating from the Australian Labor Party. For the first time in over 80 years as a trade union, we pay – and owe – nothing to the ALP. Read more…
Permanent members of all 3 super schemes (SSF, SASS and FSS) should by now have received your yearly statements which, if compared with your last statement, should reveal a sizeable jump in your superable salary. This is directly due to your Union securing the inclusion of the previous Rostered O/T component into your superable income during last year’s award round, and represents an enormous financial boost for all members. However, if there’s still any doubt about the sheer size of our win on this issue then you need look no further than the many recently retired members who are now literally $10,000’s better off because of this single Union achievement.
It was reported on 9 October that negotiations were continuing at that time for the redistribution of 25 permanent positions currently located in watchrooms at City of Sydney, Penrith, Campbelltown and Gosford. The State Committee of Management last Friday confirmed the reallocation of those positions as follows:
- City of Sydney relay 5 (1 f/f per Platoon on the 10/14, 1 S/O on day shift)
- Newcastle Hazmat 2 (S/O’s from Back to Back to 10/14 Roster)
- Wollongong Hazmat 2 (S/O’s from Back to Back to 10/14 Roster)
- Lismore 3 (firefighters from day shift to Back to Back)
- Nowra 4 (S/O and 3 from day shift to Back to Back)
- Tamworth 3 (firefighters from day shift to Back to Back)
- Moree 3 (from 1 Country S/O to S/O and 3 on day shift)
- Kariong 2 (2 firefighters to staff District Truck on Back to Back)
- GSA 1 (Senior Instructor for retained stations in the GSA)
These new positions will come on top of the 8 extra 10/14 jobs to staff Berkeley Vale’s (previously Kariong’s) hazmat van which were secured as a result of the “urgent discussions” which took place between the Union and the Department on Thursday 18 October.
Our negotiations for the introduction of 10/14 Inspectors for the Central Coast have also progressed to the point where applications have now been called, as have the permanent firefighter vacancies for Moree, and a similar invitation for Inspectors in each country Zone is expected to be made this week.
The Union is now both expecting and working towards seeing all of the new positions listed above filled and in place by no later than 31 December.
Members would recall that one of the few concessions agreed to in return for the last Award round’s 17% increases was for the relocation of the staff positions attached to the watchrooms at City of Sydney, Campbelltown, Penrith and Gosford to new locations elsewhere. That is to say, the jobs weren’t to be lost, just repositioned elsewhere by agreement between the Union and the Department.
A 3% wage increase for all retained members took effect on and from 1 October, although the new 2001 Award which provides this increase (and a further 9% over the next 18 months) is yet to be finalised. Whilst the Union and the Department remain in negotiations over the Award’s current stand-by provisions and our Union’s claim for the introduction of retained penalty rates, both parties remain confident that the 2001 Award will be finalised and formally in operation before the end of this month.
Ongoing controversy surrounding the permanent members’ transfer list system which operates under In Orders 1991/19 and Clause 28 of the Award has led the Union’s State Committee to order an overhaul of the system, and to withdraw from any further member v member disputes. Read more…
The D&D Dispute (which we note that the Department now refers to simply as a “matter”) returned to the Industrial Relations Commission on Thursday 4 October for directions. To cut a long story short, the outcome of last Thursday’s hearing was that:
- the three member Full Bench to arbitrate our dispute will comprise the IRC’s President, Justice Wright, Justice Boland and Commissioner Cambridge (all of whom have previously sat on the Dispute at some point over the last 2.5 years);
- the evidence and witness statements, etc. of both the Union and the Government must now be prepared and filed with the IRC by mid-December; and
- a full two weeks have been set aside to hear the case commencing 27 May 2002.
The Full Bench is likely to reserve its judgement at the conclusion of those two weeks of hearings for a further three or so months, so a decision can be expected to be delivered in around 12 months time from now. There is, however, a lot more work to be done between now and then and further updates will be provided to members as developments occur.
Members would recall that the 17% wage increases secured by our Union last year were to be delivered through two awards – a 12 month award in 2000 and a 3 year award in 2001. The 2000 award delivered the first 5% increases – 3% in February 2000 and a further 2% in August 2000. The Union lodged our 2001 award application with the Industrial Relations Commission yesterday to ensure payment of the remaining 12% increases, the details of which can be found on the attached table. As required by our Rules, Union dues will also rise by 3% on 9 August (up 22c to $7.70 per week).
The Carr Labor Government hasn’t only been bashing firefighters lately, they’ve also been betraying and lying to the wider trade union movement in NSW. Read more…
The Commissioner has today again written to firefighters concerning the Dispute. He has completely misrepresented both their position and ours – here’s why:
- He says of the Government’s PPI offer, “a lump sum will be paid if a firefighter is unable to perform NSW Fire Brigades duties”. Wrong! What happens to the firefighter who is deemed to have only a 0% to 15% “potential loss of earning capacity”? The answer is that they get nothing.
Remember that the “potential loss of earning capacity” is not connected to the level of your injuries, but rather the sort of future employment prospects which they believe you might have after they’ve thrown you out of the Brigades. And remember, too, that this “offer” of theirs is for permanent injuries which you’ve sustained on the job.
- What point is he trying to make about 24/7 cover? We agree that it has been costed at 2.6%. We’ve also said that we will agree to pay that whole amount, so it won’t cost the Government or the Commissioner’s precious “stakeholders” a single cent. Here we are agreeing to take the 24/7 component of their offer without amendment, and to pay 100% of the cost of that cover ourselves. All of that being said, can we have it please, Ian? This is surely now a non-issue.
- And what is he talking about when he says “the Union’s claim is clearly outside the negotiations between the parties to date…”? Let me make this 100% clear, Ian. We wanted equity with SSF 4 years ago, we wanted it 2 years ago, we wanted it 2 months ago and we still want it now. If there’s one thing that we’ve been entirely consistent throughout this dispute, it has been our demand for parity with SSF benefits for on-duty death and injury benefits.
- Far from “extending its claim for enhanced benefits”, our Union has in fact continued to modify our claim in the hope that we might yet reach an agreed outcome. Indeed, the only real modification of our claim in recent times has been to accept their offer for 24/7 cover. We did, however, tie this to a refusal to pay anything towards on-duty cover. And why should we, because on-duty deaths and injuries are clearly their responsibility. Their “co-contribution” approach to on-duty cover is akin to them saying that you can have a $15 meal allowance, but only if you pay the first $5 of it yourself! It’s not on.
- And finally, health and fitness testing. Yes, we did previously offer our “in-principle acceptance of health and fitness testing for firefighters”, but that was before they quite stupidly came out and said that it wasn’t worth a cent. We maintain that “in-principle” acceptance, but the fact is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of benefits payable to firefighters who have been killed or injured. If they want it then we’ll talk about it, but not as part of the D&D issue. They’ll also want to bring a large sack of with them to the health and fitness negotiating table, because it won’t be coming cheaply!
Last Friday we put a very reasonable and conciliatory position to them. We also asked for a response and a meeting with them by today. They refused to do either, and instead listed a hearing for 2pm today in the IRC to enforce the dispute orders against us. Nice one, Ian. You didn’t put that in your notice, did you? STAY UNITED!