Both the permanent and retained 2000 Awards are now in force. The only copies currently available to members are those on our Union’s website, although the Department is required to provide a copy of the relevant Award(s) to all members’ workplaces and we now expect this to occur shortly.Fore retained members, there appears to be little or no difficulty with backpay to 1 April and the payment of the new Award’s increased rates. However, for permanent members the Department is insisting that the earliest date for the payment of either the backpay to 24 February or the new rates of pay is July 13 – another four full pay periods away. The Department claims that it can’t be helped because technicians have to be flown in from Canada to re-program StarGarden to allow it to handle the new Award!
The Union’s officials are considering our options, but it seems there would be little chance of the IRC ordering an earlier pay date. It’s a minor point, but a positive point nonetheless, that all members would actually benefit from a July 13 payment because it would fall into the new financial year, reducing members’ total earnings (and tax liability) for 1999-2000 whilst attracting the lower marginal tax rates which will apply post-July 1.
DO NOT RETIRE BEFORE YOU SEEK OUR ADVICE!
Preliminary advice received by the Union suggests that the additional super units achieved through the new Award will not become available to members until they reach 60, or until they have held those additional units for 2.5 years (whichever occurs first). Rather than being a new requirement, it seems that this has been a provision of the State Super Scheme since day one.
We are currently seeking written confirmation from the State Super Board on this issue, but if the above is correct then it will obviously have a very large bearing on the retirement decisions for all SSF members. It follows that members who are looking to retire before the age of 60 (either voluntarily or through medical retirement) are urged to hold off on making any decision until we have been able to confirm the exact situation for you.
With the settlement of new Awards some members might think that the Union’s officials now have plenty of spare time. If only! The Union office is running flat-out attempting to catch up to the backlog of other issues which built up over the last six months and it will be some time yet before we do. Importantly, D&D has not been forgotten either – meetings with the Government resume next week.