The three separate resolutions concerning payment of the allowances were endorsed by the rank and file across all centres, with the Department accepting the position on permanent and relieving/relief operators. However the Department has rejected the Union’s proposal for what were previously the Provincial Comms centres. This was anticipated, with the Department refusing to pay any more than the rostered number of operators per shift (Alb, Turv 1, Gosf, Kat 2).
Further negotiations took place late last Friday, with a proposal arising for block payment for all purposes being made to all f/f staff attached to these centres. The current debate centres on that amount, with the Department eventually coming up to $50 per week per member. The Union believes block payment has merit in terms of ease in administration (including backpay) and equity for all members. The application of the allowance for all purposes is a further benefit, applying throughout leave and sick periods. Union calculations resulted in it’s counter- position being for $60 per week.
The Union is aware that even $60 falls short of the members expectations in those centres, being payment of $28 per operator per watchroom duty. Detailed calculations and averages were performed to achieve the $60 figure – which the Department is still disputing. Although less than anticipated through the previous resolution of members, the Union believes this to be a fair settlement, equating to an approximate 400% increase over the existing allowance. The Department has further indicated that Gosford, Turvey Park and Albury are now all expected to cease operations as communications centres within six months. Katoomba will move to the standard allowance arrangement upon becoming the fourth permanent Fire Command Centre.
As stated previously, the Union will not settle the dispute in part, meaning that although allowances for Wollongong, Newcastle, Lismore and Alexandria are settled, no agreement will be reached until all comms members allowances are settled. Upon settlement of the remaining centres’ allowances, full payment including backpay shall be made to all members on the first pay-period exceeding one fortnight’s notice.
Members attached to Katoomba, Gosford, Albury and Turvey Park should discuss this matter and indicate their position by fax to the Union office as early as possible. The Department is to respond by tomorrow on the $60 block payment. Members may contact Michael Wright or Chris Read for further information.