1998 AGM decisions
November 27, 1998
Decisions of the Union’s 1998 Annual General Meeting held 1000 hours today, Friday November 27, Trades Hall, Sydney.
1 (a) Water Tanker Re-Allocations
That further to the earlier re-allocation of No. 77, 86 and 88 water tankers, this meeting resolves that the Union’s position for the re-allocation of the 6 remaining permanently-staffed water tankers shall be as follows, subject to clear agreement being reached with the Department that:
each of the 6 proposed relocations and/or revised staffing arrangements will be entered into and maintained on a strictly ‘without prejudice’ basis to either party, and will therefore not be considered to overturn any previously existing agreements, policies and/or practices; and
all firefighters (ie both retained and permanent) attached to a water tanker Station shall have the option of water tanker training made available to them.
1. No. 8 Station, Liverpool’s water tanker is to be relocated to the Rescue/Bushfire Section at Chullora, and staffed by permanent members attached to that Section;
2. No. 45 Station, Miranda’s water tanker is to be relocated to No. 90 Station, Menai and staffed by yet to be recruited retained members attached to that Station;
3. No. 47 Station, Revesby’s water tanker is to be relocated to the Rescue/Bushfire Section at Chullora and staffed by permanent members attached to that Section;
4. No. 50 Station, Hornsby’s water tanker is to be relocated to No. 75 Station, Berowra and staffed by retained members attached to that Station;
5. No. 51 Station, Forestville’s water tanker is to be relocated to No. 94 Station, Kellyville and staffed by retained members attached to that Station;
6. No. 255 Station, Charlestown’s water tanker is to remain at No. 255 Station and is to be staffed by existing and yet to be recruited retained members attached to that Station.
1 (b) Merit Selection/Promotion Policy
That this Annual General Meeting of members resolves that the Union’s position for the future system of merit based promotion to Station officer (and above as the case may be) be as follows:
1. Direct promotions from the Leading Firefighters’ list shall continue until such time as:
a) all competencies required for promotion to Station Officer have been fully developed and agreed; and
b) all 80% of the Station Officer competencies that are determined to be pre-requisites for Senior Firefighters applying for entry into the proposed Station Officers’ Promotion Program have been available to all Senior Firefighters for a minimum period of 12 months; and
c) a period of 12 months has elapsed from the date the Department and the Union reach agreement on the merit selection process for entry into the proposed Station Officer’s Promotion Program.
2. All members holding the rank of Leading Firefighter when the proposed Station Officer’s Promotion Program commences shall be allowed the opportunity to participate in a Program through a 75% quota of places within each Program being filled directly from the highest placed Leading Firefighters on the Leading Firefighters’ list. The other 25% of places within each Program shall be open to all Leading Firefighters, together with those Senior Firefighters who possess 80% of the Station Officer competencies. Entry to each Program for this other 25% shall be determined by their performance in a yet to be agreed merit selection process.
This split system of selection for entry into Station Officer Promotion Programs shall continue until all Leading Firefighters have participated in at least one Station Officers’ Promotion Program. The 75% quota entry of Leading Firefighters into a Station Officers’ Promotion Program shall be available only once to each Leading Firefighter member. Therefore, if a Leading Firefighter enters a Station Officers’ Promotion Program by the 75% quota entry and fails to successfully complete the Program, he/she will have to compete with other Leading Firefighters and Senior Firefighters for entry into a subsequent Program.
3. The yet to be agreed merit selection process for entry into the Station Officers’ Promotion Program shall be an assessment of a candidate’s ability to apply Station Officer competencies, provided that these competencies are known to be held by both Leading Firefighters and eligible Senior Firefighters. This process, which shall not be a rote knowledge test or an interview, shall be developed and agreed between the Department and the Union.
4. Upon application, the merit selection process shall be open to unsuccessful candidates for review by a yet to be agreed independent body utilising a system of direct comparisons between successful and unsuccessful candidates.
5. Once determined, the same principles underpinning the selection process referred to above shall be extended to the selection process for entry into the Inspectors’ Promotion Program.
1 (c) Safe Minimum Staffing – Inspectors
That this Annual General Meeting of members notes the acute shortage of NSWFB 10/14 Inspectors (ie Operational Commanders) in Greater Sydney’s South West and North West Regions, as well as Region North’s Zone 7 (ie the Central Coast), and indeed throughout country NSW, and accordingly records its grave concern for the health and safety of:
1. understaffed and therefore overworked Inspector members;
2. all other members who are frequently denied appropriate senior fireground supervision as a result of point 1; and
3. those communities within the aforementioned areas.
Without detracting from any other area of need, this meeting identifies Zone SW2 as the area most urgently in need of the allocation of additional Inspector members on the 10/14 roster. Accordingly, this meeting demands the Department’s immediate agreement to the introduction of this additional SW2 position, together with a genuine commitment to the earliest possible introduction of the remaining required positions, and authorises the State Committee of Management to take such steps as it considers appropriate in order to achieve this outcome.
In resolving this way, this meeting specifically notes the special roster positions of ‘Inspector – Resources’ and ‘Inspector – Examinations’, both of which remain vacant. Further, and in the interest of maintaining the Department’s focus on its much-vaunted ‘core-business’, this meeting notes the Department’s continued rotation of all Inspector members individually through its ‘Executive Suite’ (frequently at the direct incursion of overtime) and demands the indefinite suspension of this practice until such time as these operational positions have been filled.
1 (d) Special Duties Positions
1. That this meeting directs the State Committee of Management to further explore the concept of special duties positions (as described in Clause 5.2.3 of the permanent staff Award) with a view to its introduction, subject to the following fundamental principles being observed:
a) that there will be no significant loss in substantive numbers of Station Officers and Senior Officers due to the implementation of special duties (ie. that there by no variation greater than 10%);
b) that a suitable selection process for special duties positions is agreed to between the Department and the Union;
c) that the Department ceases its current discriminatory practice and removes the barriers to light duties personnel progressing through the rank structure; &
d) that any agreement for the implementation of special duties will be codified in a registered industrial instrument and that all positions classified as such will be explicitly acknowledged by the Department to be firefighting positions.
2. That the Union reject the Department’s initial special duties proposal as highly inadequate in terms of remuneration and general conditions.
3. That the rank and file authorises the State Committee of Management to enter into further negotiations with the Department as to its initial proposal. In particular, the State Committee of Management is directed to ensure:
a) the development of strategies to satisfy 1. a) – d);
b) that a review be set up in the near future to reassess jobs that may have changed in the recent past or where either of the parties (Department or Union) consider that the outcome was inappropriate;
c) that the function of points to dollars and allowances component be re-evaluated to provide a more appropriate level of remuneration; &
d) that the Department continue its offer of retrospectivity to June 30, 1999.
Notwithstanding the outcomes of the special duties negotiations, the State Committee of Management is instructed to develop firm and definitive policy on remuneration, and in particular the question of allowances generally, for all firefighters. In the event that the special duties concept is rejected following the conclusion of negotiations, those positions that were evaluated under the special duties process are to also be explicitly considered in this process. Further, in view of the approaching Award negotiations and the desire to reach a final position on the future of the special duties concept, this policy development process is to be completed by no later than June 30 1999.
1 (e) Leading Firefighters and Transfer Registers (as per In Orders 1991/19)
That whilst it is recognised that some ambiguity may be argued to exist in the composition of In Orders 1991/19 ‘Transfers – Country Positions’ given that Leading Firefighters appear to be eligible to apply for both ‘Section 1- Firefighters’ and ‘Section 2- Inspectors, Station Officers and Leading Firefighters’ transfers, this meeting also recognises that it has been the consistent practice of the Department to not accept Section 2 Transfer Register applications from Leading Firefighters until they had been substantively promoted to the rank of Station Officer. This meeting therefore determines that in the interest of consistency, equity and fairness, there should be no retrospective adjustment of any Transfer Register to reflect any arrangement other than the Department’s long-standing practice, and further, that this practice should continue to apply to all LF members.
1 (f) Member Assistance Scheme (Rule 50)
That in recognising that it has been 6 years since the last increase to the Union’s Assistance Scheme (which is available under Rule 50 to financial members who become incapable through sickness or accident of carrying out their firefighting duties and therefore do not receive wages), this meeting authorises an increase in the maximum weekly amount of Union Assistance per member from the current $88 per week to $120 per week.
1 (g) Salary Sacrifice for Superannuation
That this meeting approves the implementation of optional salary sacrifice for superannuation for all members in accordance with the Guidelines issued by the Premier’s Department. Further, this meeting authorises the State Secretary to vary the relevant Firefighter’s Awards to give effect to the salary sacrifice (superannuation) option and to negotiate with the Department on the specific details of the scheme.
2 (a) Honoraria – President
That in accordance with Rule 18(7), this meeting endorses the payment of the President’s annual honorarium of $7184, as adjusted by firefighter wage movements over the preceding 12 months.
2 (b) Honoraria – Returning Officer
That in accordance with Rule 22(7), this meeting endorses the payment of the Returning Officer’s annual honorarium of $268, as adjusted by firefighter wage movements over the preceding 12 months.
2 (c) Appointment of Returning Officer
That in accordance with Rule 22(1), this meeting re-appoints Comrade D. Honan as Returning Officer for the ensuing 12 months through until the Union’s 1999 Annual General Meeting.
3 (a) Restructure of the Rescue Section
That item 3(a) ‘Restructure of the Rescue Section’ on the agenda on the 1998 AGM be received and noted.
3 (b) Rescue Pumpers
That item 3(b) ‘Rescue Pumpers’ on the agenda on the 1998 AGM be received and noted.
4 (a) Contamination of PPE
That the State Committee of Management investigate with all due speed the risk to the health of firefighters by the current practice of reusing and travelling with turnout gear that has been exposed to toxic atmospheres. A commitment to provide the membership with regular updates as to the progress of this investigation should also be undertaken.
4 (b) Motor Driving allowance
That item 4(b) ‘Motor Driving allowance’ on the agenda on the 1998 AGM be received and noted.
4 (c) Union Rules – representation
That the State Committee of Management resolved to investigate the possible benefits of creating Zone representatives and the mechanism by which this change to the organisational structure of the union will be achieved. A commitment to give the membership a regular update on the progress of this issue should also be undertaken.
Agenda item 4 (d) was declared LOST.
4 (e) Union Rules – agenda
That the Union rule regarding providing notice of the agenda of the AGM be altered to allow one months prior notice of the agenda to the membership.