There have been considerable “behind the scenes” developments with the country staffing program over the last 6-8 weeks. Rather than dealing in detail with each, the present situation can quickly be summarised as follows:
The Department commenced its own verification process of members claiming residential qualification at the beginning of December. According to the “Commish’s Corner” of 18/12/98, this process was to be overseen by the Brigades’ Professional Standards and Conduct Officer and was to be completed in order to allow for the publication of the final lists by 24/12/98. I have been assured that the final lists will now be finalised shortly. The Union has had no role in this latest review process, and at any rate, is not responsible for the publication of the final lists.
On 7/1/98 after weeks of failed negotiations, the Department confirmed it would not pay Transferred Employees’ Compensation to firefighters transferred to the new country locations under Clause 29 of the Award. The Union listed a dispute with in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) in order to clarify the application of Clause 29. The Department responded by placing the entire country staffing program on hold until the matter had been determined. On Wednesday 13/1/98, the IRC’s Justice Marks expressed the opinion that Clause 29 did not apply to the transfers in question. Although disappointing, the IRC’s judgement removed one of the final obstacles to the 73 transfers.
The Department has confirmed that Bathurst will now commence with S/O and 3 on the special (day) roster only. However, it has already been agreed that the additional 4 back to back roster positions rejected by Bathurst Council will now be used to establish 4 new permanent positions elsewhere. Whilst negotiations on that location are continuing, Perisher, Queanbeyan, Taree and Kempsey are among those areas so far discussed, as have been new country zone Inspector (Operational Commander) positions.
Clause 27 – Notice of Transfer
Whilst all members transferring to these country locations retain the right to 28 days’ notice under Clause 27.1.3, most are yet to receive such advice. All members retain the right to waive some or all of that notice period if they seek an earlier transfer. Because members cannot be forced to waive this period, the projected starting dates (below) may be subject to variation.
The projected starting dates for each station is now as follows, subject of course to the provisions of Clause 27 and individual members (see the above point):