The “framework agreement” between our Union and the Government on 15 December was meant to produce a number of outcomes including the start of award negotiations, the production of the Department’s award counter claim within 2 weeks and the 1st of two $350 payments to all permanent members.
The $350 payment was made on 30 December and award negotiations formally commence this Monday, 10 January. The bad news is that the Department is yet to “advise the FBEU within 14 days of claim it [ie the Department] wishes to make in respect to award renewal” despite a formal commitment to do so under our 15 December agreement. We instead received a letter from them, a copy of which is now available in full on our website, which offers the previous 6 months of dispute as the excuse for their failure to meet their end of the deal. Members can make their own minds up about the Department’s latest efforts to keep to an agreement – all I will say is that there is a disturbing pattern emerging. More important, however, is what happens between now and 24 February, being the date the awards are meant to be settled and payment of the 2nd $350.
What we can say is that they appear to be offering only 2% per year, with any increases in excess of 2% having “to be justified on the basis of demonstrable and accessible improvements in productivity and efficiency for the Department, which will enable those increases to be funded in a financially responsible manner”. What a load of waffle! After all, where were the improvements in productivity and efficiencyby politicians to fund their own latest 10% wage rise?
Members may be aware of the 16% wage offer for other public servants (including nurses, ambulance officers and the NSWFB’s own clerical staff). 16% may sound like a good deal at first, but on closer investigation it actually covers a full 4.5 years from 1/1/2000 through until 1/7/2004 with increases coming in 5 stages:
2% in Jan 2000, 2% in Jan 2001, 3% in Jan 2002, 4% in Jan 2003 and 5% in July 2003.
That’s only 4% in the first 2 years, and 7% in three. The full 16% is really 10% in wage rises (2% per year) and 6% in “productivity and efficiency” trade-offs. Put simply it’s what they’re now offering firefighters, which is a long way short of our Union’s claim for a minimum 12% wage rise (or 4% per year) and additional wage increases being paid for any so-called “productivity and efficiency”. Award negotiations are never easy and this year’s award round will clearly be no different. Further updates will be circulated to members as negotiations continue.