Details of proposed Awards
April 20, 2000
ast Friday’s Union notice to permanent members about Special General Meetings to discuss the new Awards advised that the Award and all relevant correspondence would be available in full on the Union’s website by midday on Tuesday. Similar advice was provided to retained members in this week’s plebiscite notice. Regrettably, extended (and difficult) negotiations resulted in documentation being unavailable prior to this evening, although all relevant information for the proposed Awards can now be found on this website by clicking here. A copy of the Union’s correspondence to the Government follows immediately below this notice.
It hasn’t been easy. The Union’s officials have been literally working flat-out throughout this week to complete the proposed Awards in time, with the finishing touches actually being made as late as 8pm tonight. As a result it is quite possible that the Awards may contain some drafting errors (eg clause numbers and cross-referencing, etc). We’ve done our best to eliminate them, but if any such errors are detected by members then it follows that we’d certainly appreciate you letting us know!
All retained members are reminded to return their plebiscite forms to the Union by 1 May. Similarly, all permanent members are urged to attend one of next week’s General Meetings which will consider, debate and vote on the adoption (or otherwise) of the proposed wage agreement and associated Awards. Country Sub-Branch members will be advised by separate notice of your meeting details on Wednesday 26 April, whilst Newcastle, Wollongong and Sydney meetings will be held as follows:
260 Station, Thursday 27 April at 1000 hours
503 Station, Wednesday 26 April at 1800 hours
Trades Hall Auditorium, Goulburn Street Sydney
Night Section, Thursday 27 April at 1900 hours
Day Section, Friday 28 April at 1000 hours
Thursday 20th April, 2000
Correspondence: Union to Government
20 April 2000
Dr Col Gellatly
Premier’s Department of NSW
GPO Box 5341
Sydney NSW 2001
Re: Proposed Agreement on Firefighters’ Awards
I write in response to various correspondence received from both the New South Wales Fire Brigades and your Department in recent weeks concerning negotiations for new firefighter Awards, and further to the direct discussions between representatives of the parties which have been held over that time.
Save for the proposed handling of recruit rates and hours discussed at Point 4 below, the agreement proposed herein is considered to reflect the understanding reached during the course of those discussions referred to above and this correspondence should be taken to supersede, and therefore rescind, all previous correspondence between the parties on this matter. Further, the proposal contained herein should be considered by the parties to be both comprehensive and conclusive. In short, the proposed agreement begins and ends here.
1. New Permanent Awards
It is proposed that the parties enter into two new consent Awards for permanent firefighters, the first to operate for 12 months from 24 February 2000 to 23 February 2001 and the second to operate for 36 months from 24 February 2001 to 24 February 2004.
The first Award shall be made in the form of the attached draft Award document titled “Crown Employees (NSW Fire Brigades Firefighting Staff) Award 2000”.
The second Award shall, subject to the outcome of any monitoring of the GST discussed at Point 3, be made in the form of the attached draft Award document titled “Crown Employees (NSW Fire Brigades Firefighting Staff) Award 2001”.
2. New Retained Awards
It is proposed that the parties enter into two new consent Awards for retained firefighters, the first to operate for 12 months from 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001 and the second to operate for 36 months from 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2004.
The first Award shall be made in the form of the attached draft Award document titled “Crown Employees (NSW Fire Brigades Retained Firefighting Staff) Award 2000”.
The second Award shall, subject to the outcome of any monitoring of the GST discussed at Point 3, be made in the form of the attached draft Award document titled “Crown Employees (NSW Fire Brigades Retained Firefighting Staff) Award 2001”.
3. Monitoring of the GST
It is proposed that the parties agree to monitor of the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) throughout the life of this agreement and that it will be open to the parties to review and, by agreement, adjust the monetary rates contained within the second permanent and retained Awards as a result of this monitoring.
4. Recruit Firefighters’ 40 hour week
The Brigades will note that the proposed permanent Awards include a provision to include a roster allowance for Recruit Firefighters and to move them to a 40 hour week in line with all other classifications covered by the proposed Awards. This is proposed primarily for the purpose of maintaining consistency and utility within the new Awards and significantly, has been achieved not by increasing the actual number of hours worked, but by removing the accrual of 38 Hour Leave whilst recruits are at the college (see clauses 8.8 & 8.10).
The Union contends that, through the savings realised by the Brigades in the interface between the recruits leaving the training college and their first Annual Leave groups, such a move is effectively cost neutral. However, should the Brigades not agree to this particular concept then the Union would reluctantly revert to the position whereby the recruit firefighter rates remain based upon a 38 hour week and are indexed in accordance with the general wage movements for the life of the Award.
5. Non-Award reforms tied to this Agreement
The Brigades (aka the Department) has sought a number of organisational reforms during the term of this agreement. As a result of extensive negotiations over the preceding months, and in consideration of the totality of this agreement, it is proposed that the following non-award items be agreed to:
Restructure of Fire Safety Division to include an agreed number of Station Officers and a team-based structure, provided that there will be no reduction in total staff numbers attached to the Division as a consequence of this change;
Re-allocation of staff from watchrooms at Penrith and Campbelltown, and the Relay Room at City of Sydney to other newly established operational positions to be determined by consultation between the parties;
Recognition that prevention duties (FireEd, fire safety talks, evacuation drills etc) are a compulsory component of operational officers’ and firefighters’ duties, and removal of all restrictions on recording prevention activities. Provided that statistics will not be used to enforce work quotas for stations and/or platoons;
A further 12 month trial of a PDS for Executive Officers from 1 July 2000 to be conducted and resolved on the same terms previously accepted by the Brigades;
Exploration and, if agreed between the parties, promulgation of an In Order outlining in a non-prescriptive manner expectations of operational crews during a “standard work shift”;
Union support for new and proposed roles for the NSWFB in urban search and rescue and port protection;
Acceptance by the Union of an arrangement whereby CBT assessments normally conducted at TAFE colleges will, where possible, be conducted during on-duty hours at Departmental premises (refer to Clause 19.1 of the proposed permanent Awards); and
Acceptance by the Union of an arrangement whereby firefighting appliances dedicated to bushfire suppression (ie water tankers and composite-type appliances) and which are ordinarily staffed by retained firefighters will no longer need to be staffed during the non-bushfire danger period. Provided that all such appliances will continue to be staffed in accordance with In Orders 1995/20, including through the use of permanent firefighters if necessary, at all times within the declared bushfire danger period and on any other declared period of high or extreme bushfire danger. Further, the parties accept that this reform will not in any way restrict or alter the existing response arrangements for retained firefighters.
6. New initiatives during the life of this Agreement
The Union will agree to continue to jointly explore opportunities for increased efficiency and productivity and, in specific instances, may agree that it is appropriate to implement certain initiatives within the life of this agreement. However, such initiatives will not be tied to, nor considered part of this agreement and it will therefore be open to the Union to seek appropriate recognition of any such initiatives in subsequent (ie post-2004) Award negotiations. To this end the Union accepts your previous offer that, notwithstanding that it will be difficult to quantify some of the “intangible” benefits (in hard dollar terms) of some of these initiatives, the Brigades will agree to acknowledge the significant benefits which would accrue to the community and the Brigades through their adoption, and will work with the Union to develop a methodology by which “productivity” can be measured and appropriately recognised.
The Union’s formal agreement to this proposal shall remain subject firstly, to the Government’s acceptance of same; and secondly, to endorsement by the Union’s rank and file membership. Your confirmation of acceptance of this proposal is therefore sought prior the commencement of our rank and file meetings, the first of which is scheduled to be held on the evening of Wednesday 26 April. I expect to be in a position to convey the Union’s formal acceptance, or otherwise, of this proposal agreement during the course of the afternoon of Monday 1 May following the conclusion of all voting by our members.
cc: Commissioner NSW Fire Brigades
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