1996 Annual General Meeting & Special General Meeting

November 22, 1996


Trades Hall Auditorium, Goulburn Street, Sydney

1000 & 1900 hours, Friday 22nd November, 1996


“That the apologies as received be accepted.”


“That the minutes of the 1995 Annual General Meeting, held 3rd November 1995, Trades Hall, Goulburn Street Sydney be adopted”


“That the State Secretary’s Annual Report be received.”


“That the State Secretary’s Annual Report be adopted.”


1. Recall Rosters

State Committee of Management recommendation:

“That the Union shall endorse a recall roster for all members and that the recall roster shall operate according to the principles set out below.

1. As of 0800 hours 1/1/97 all existing forms of determining the availability and eligibility of members to be recalled for duty shall cease.

2. The recall roster is intended to address recall to duty for members who are rostered off duty for the date where a recall may be required and does not contemplate stay backs at the conclusion of a rostered shift nor the requirement to report for duty prior to the commencement of shift.

3. The recall roster as described herein shall become the only reference point for the determination of eligibility for members to be recalled for duty.

4. That this proposed roster shall operate from the 1/1/97 for a period of three (3) months and shall be reviewed at the next properly constituted meeting of members of this Union with the decision referred to the next Special General Meeting for ratification

5. That all members be informed of the adoption or this, or any other roster subsequently adopted.

6. The principles set out below shall form the basis of the recall roster and that roster is to be worked by permanent members only.

(i) all  existing rosters operating prior to 1/1/97 shall cease and all members shall commence on the new roster on zero overtime hours paid.

(ii) each platoon shall nominate a short list of members available for recall overtime on the 2nd and 3rd day off of the 10/14 roster and the back to back roster or any day off for members working the special roster as long as award conditions relating to continuous hours of work are met.

(iii) The recall roster shall operate on a platoon basis within a zone or declared work area and members of each platoon in each zone or declared work area will organise their own priority list.

(iii) a.  a declared area is intended to define an area where the length and/or breadth of the zone involves prohibitive distances between the workplaces of permanent firefighters where recall overtime is required. e.g. Albury Central, Turvey Park, Broken Hill, Katoomba, Lismore and stations with Country S/O’s. It is logical that these workplaces arrange their own overtime to be worked by members attached to that station.

(iv) priority in the initial stages shall be determined by seniority and that the most  senior member in the zone or declared area shall occupy the position of preference and operate in descending order from the position of preference..

(v) overtime hours recorded against a members name shall be calculated on hours paid i.e. hours worked @ 1 1/2 x the base rate will be multiplied by 1 1/2 and hours worked @ 2 x base rate will be multiplied by 2.

(vi) With regard to the principles outlined in 6 (iii) the location or duration of the recall shall not affect the priority or eligibility of the member.

(vii) With regard to the principles outlined in 6 (iv) the member with the lowest number of total overtime hours worked (paid) on the last night shift on the standard roster, the last shift worked on the back to back roster or the Friday of the special roster shall be offered the position of preference on a short list.

(viii)The number of members required on the short list shall be determined by the demonstrated need and/or majority vote or agreement of all members attached to the zone or declared work area.

(ix) Members will be asked to indicate their availability and those with the lowest total overtime hours paid will be allocated priority to nominate for the short list. If members with the lowest hours do not wish to nominate for the short list then that position will be offered to the member with the next lowest total overtime hours paid. This process may continue until the number of positions required for the short list is filled. Should there be insufficient nominees for the short list then the member(s) with the lowest total overtime hours paid will be obliged to make themselves available. If a member who has been detailed to make him/herself available is unavailable or unwilling then it becomes that members duty to arrange a suitable replacement.

(x) If specialist qualifications are required then the member with the lowest total overtime hours paid and the appropriate qualifications receives priority.

Nothing contained in this resolution precludes local arrangements that are acceptable to all affected members in that area. Where disputes arise concerning the operation of a recall roster these principles shall provide the framework around which the validity of the complaint shall be tested.”

2. Adoption of the fraternal address of “comrade”

State Committee of Management recommendation:

“That the undated members’ correspondence questioning the Union’s use of the term comrade and proposing that the Union instead revert to the use of the terms brother and sister, as the case may be, be received, and that this meeting confirm as policy this Union’s adoption of the use of the fraternal address of comrade due to it being standing ACTU and NSW Labor Council policy, its gender neutrality and primarily, it being considered the most appropriate fraternal term for union members generally, and firefighters particularly, due to its most literally accepted meaning of ‘a fellow, mate or equal in work or play or fighting’.”

3. State Secretary’s Salary

State Committee of Management recommendation:

“That this meeting notes the collapse of remunerative relativities between the Industrial Staff and the State Secretary following the 15% salary increase of the Industrial Staff, particularly that of the Senior Industrial Officer. As a consequence it is considered necessary to realign the State Secretary’s salary to an appropriate level relative to the Industrial Staff and commensurate with that position’s roles and responsibilities. This meeting believes that given the Inspector rank to which the State Secretary is presently aligned is remunerated by a wage rather than salary structure thereby allowing for overtime at penalty rates beyond a 42 hour week, this alignment is not appropriate for the State Secretary’s position. The State Secretary’s roles and responsibilities cannot be carried out within the confines of a set working week and therefor the position must be a salaried position. Accordingly, this meeting resolves to fix the State Secretary’s salary, only, at a rate equivalent to a Superintendent in the NSWFB, being the lowest salaried position amongst the rank and file. As a consequence, this meeting endorses the State Committee of Management’s decision to so increase the State Secretary’s salary effective the week commencing 18/3/96, being as it was subject to this meeting’s approval.”

4. Honoraria

State Committee of Management recommendation:

“That in accordance with Rule 18(7), this meeting endorses the payment of the President’s annual honorarium, as indexed, of $1246.”

State Committee of Management recommendation:

“That in accordance with Rule 22(7), this meeting endorses the payment of the Returning Officer’s annual honorarium, as indexed, of $232.”

5. Appointment of Returning Officer

State Committee of Management recommendation:

“That in accordance with Rule 22(1), this meeting appoints Comrade D. Honan as Returning Officer for the coming year and until the Union’s 1997 Annual General Meeting.”

6. Newcastle Disciplinary Action

State Committee of Management recommendation:

“That this meeting condemns the Commissioner for his punitive and reactionary stance with regard to the three members charged over Regulation breaches in Newcastle. The Union rejects the penalties as being severe, unjust and inconsistent with the Department’s previous handling of such Regulation breaches.

However, this meeting notes that the Union explored every possible avenue of defence for its members, including the dedication of the Union’s Senior Industrial Officer and engagement of legal Counsel on their behalf. Further, every legal avenue – both Departmental and external -has been explored to its fullest and the Union consistently pressured the Department to review its position. This resulted in the reinstatement of those members originally suspended, and the reduction from the Department’s initially stated intention to dismiss all three from the Brigades. Further Union pressure lead to a reduction down from demotion to S/F for two years to the final demotion to L/F for six months for the Station Officer member, as well as the demotion to L/F for two years being finally reduced to demotion to S/O for two years for the Inspector member. A concession has presently been secured whereby the demoted Inspector may remain in Newcastle, again against the Department’s initially stated intentions to remove that member to Sydney. The third member charged, who faced a fine of $800, continued to maintain his innocence and his final avenue of appeal lay with GREAT, assisted by the Union’s legal Counsel.

The Union is resigned to accepting that law and justice are not one and the same, and that its members have been unjustly treated through a matter riddled with hypocrisy and worse, the invasion of members’ civil liberties through covert surveillance by the employer. The Union notes that such civil liberty issues are presently the subject of review and amendment by the Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, in order to prevent such surveillance recurring. That surveillance stands condemned by the rank and file at General Meetings of the Union. To this point, the Union is again to demand the acceptance by the Department that no further surveillance of workplaces or members shall be undertaken, with the State Committee of Management to consider further action in support of this position should such acceptance not be forthcoming.

This meeting applauds the comrades of the Newcastle Sub-Branch for their various actions in the support and defence of the members charged. The meeting notes the militant action, including continued strike action, which it believes consistently strengthened the Union’s position, and that the Newcastle Sub-Branch continued to have bans in place. Throughout the dispute, the Newcastle Sub-Branch actions were endorsed by the Union’s elected officials and remained commendable, however the Union finally believed all possible legal and industrial avenues to have been exhausted.

Accordingly, the State Committee of Management determined that the most favourable outcome possible in their defence had already been achieved, despite the firm and continued view that a gross injustice has occurred. The legal processes worked against the Union and its members in this instance, with the only alternative – being to continue to agitate industrially – potentially compromising the Union’s collective rank and file through what could only be very negative publicity from the conservative and sensational press.

Finally, that the Commissioner again stand condemned as a reactionary and vindictive ideologue, and that the rank and file be called upon to maintain unity in the face of what has been a painful and difficult matter for all. This meeting believes the State Committee’s decision to have been ultimately in the best interests of all members – including those members charged – based upon the balance and consideration of all information available to it, andnotes the State Committee’s view that its decision in this matter had been amongst the hardest ever for the Union’s elected officials to take.”


7. Endorsement of Negotiated Position for New Permanent Staff Award

State Committee of Management recommendation:

“That this meeting endorses the negotiated position for a 2 year Award with a 12% wage increase and the variations and improvements in conditions of employment as outlined below. This meeting directs the State Committee of Management to seek a relieving base rate of $20.50 and a kilometre rate of 66 cents, and authorises the State Committee of Management to resolve all other matters which remain outstanding, together with the drafting of the actual Award and related documentation, with such matters to be undertaken at the earliest opportunity so as to expedite settlement and the ensuing delivery of wage increases. Further, this meeting authorises the State Committee of Management to intiate whatever industrial action it may deem necessary in order to secure same.

The proposed Award shall deliver 12% over three increments between 8 August 1996 and 1 July 1998. The Award shall expire 31 December 1998.

8 August 1996 5% (with retrospective payment of 5% for last five months)

31 December 1997 5%

1 July, 1998 2% (of which 1% will be dependent upon realising first                                              1% productivity component)

The initial 5% comprises a negotiated 1% productivity component, which is to be arrived at by the:

  • transfer of existing communications positions at Lismore, Gosford, Turvey Park and Albury to achieve minumum staffing of S/O and 3 per platoon at both Albury and Turvey Park, an increase of one operator per platoon for Newcastle communications and the creation of new, but yet to be agreed operational positions within Zone N6 ;
  • transfer of Lighting Vehicle positions, presently at City of Sydney, to achieve back to back BA/Hazmat S/O positions in both Wollongong and Newcastle.

The second 5% comprises a yet to be negotiated 2% productivity component, which is to be arrived at primarily by the transfer of various existing water tanker positions to yet to be established new operational positions, provided that for each position released the Department is to create an additional operational position for this purpose also, and further, that the rank and file have final determination of the Union’s position in relation to this matter.

Other variations and/or improvements to existing conditions shall be for the:

  • Retention of 144 hours Sick Leave p/a, with all such leave to be fully cumulative;
  • Inclusion of Parental Leave ( Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave );
  • Retention of Relieving staff;
  • Overtime Meal Allowances to be paid prior to or at the conclusion of the O/T;
  • Inclusion of Training Course Attendance Entitlements;
  • Inclusion of Court Attendance Entitlements;
  • Family Leave to be replaced with Personal/Carer’s Leave with full access to any current or accrued sick leave;
  • Minimum periods for taking Long Service Leave to be reduced to 8 consecutive days (currently 16 days) for Operational Firefighters and 7 consecutive days for occupants of Special Duties Positions (currently 14 days);
  • Inclusion of Special Leave for Union Activities;
  • Existing occupants of Special Duties Positions to retain those positions, with an agreed package of rates of pay and conditions of employment to be backdated to 1/1/97 provided agreement is reached for their introduction by September 1997;
  • Compassionate Leave to be broadened to include “life threatening illness” of a family member. Definition of “Close Family Member” is also to be broadened to enable members to access this leave for a wider group of relatives;
  • Continued protection for members paying subsidised rental ($18 pw) and continuing protection for those having return transfer rights;
  • Inclusion of specific Clauses on Travelling Compensation and Transferred Officers’ Compensation (currently governed by 2 separate Awards);
  • Implementation of Competency Based Training on 1/1/1998, provided that the Curriculum Advisory Committee (which has equal Union/Departmental representation) first advises the Commissioner that this date is to be appropriate in terms of completion of the training modules etc;
  • The introduction of a yet to be agreed system of Merit Based Promotion to all Officer ranks from 1/1/1999;
  • Reinstatement of Senior Officers in the Award;
  • Commitment from the Department to engage a consultant, agreed by the parties, to develop an improved Superannuation scheme for Firefighters.

Finally, the State Committee of Management is authorised to make such other minor adjustments not described within this decision but nevertheless recognised as being considered desirable and/or necessary by that body, in addition to those matters which remain outstanding, which are as follows:

  • Base rate and km rate for Relieving and associated changes to Relieving conditions;
  • Subsidy for Departmental accommodation ( with 50% already agreed );
  • Rescue Allowance;
  • Increase of BA Section Allowance;
  • Application of Family and Community Services Leave to Firefighters in conjunction with Personal/Carer’s Leave;
  • Clauses on Travelling Compensation and Transferred Officers’ Compensation;

Application of backdated increase to 8/8/96 to all allowances or just the wages plus rostered overtime;