Industrial update

June 9, 2000

Inside this notice:

  • Rescue out-duties now OK
  • Permanent firefighters for Perisher Valley
  • State Rail Authority Fire Service – Back from the dead

Rescue Out-Duties Now OK

Permanent rescue-qualified members would be aware of the 1997 agreement between the Department and our Union that stopped “rescue out-duties” (sending a rescue qualified member on out-duties to another rescue station in order to maintain minimum SRB-qualified staffing levels). This was negotiated and agreed to because at the time the only “reward” rescue members received was to be packed off from one end of Sydney to the other on out-duties.

With the introduction of a rescue allowance for permanent members under the 2000 Award there is no longer any restriction on out-duties for SRB-qualified members, except of course the annual 8 out-duty limit which applies generally.

Permanent Firefighters for Perisher Valley

Negotiations between the Department and our Union have led to agreement being reached for permanent firefighters at No. 426 Station Perisher Valley. We have written outlining our Union’s position and are currently waiting on a response, but we expect this extra staffing will be in place before the end of June.

The circumstances at Perisher are unique and the staffing agreement reflects this. For example, rather than permanent transfers, the Station will be staffed on the Special Roster by S/O and 3 relievers who will be rotated on a regular basis. Selection for these relievers will be by ballot if the number of applicants exceed the number of positions available. For further details, a full copy of the Union’s correspondence follows immediately below:

8 June 2000

Mr. Ian MacDougall
New South Wales Fire Brigades
PO Box A249

Att: Supt. Doug Messenger

Dear Sir,

Re: Staffing Arrangements at Perisher Fire Station

Following a meeting with the Department on Tuesday 30 May 2000 regarding the provision of permanent staffing to Perisher Fire Station, the Union undertook to provide the Department with the terms it would be prepared to accept.

On 7 June 2000, a telephone conversation was held between Supt. Doug Messenger and Messrs. Read and Bailey of the Union wherein the detail of these industrial and operational terms were discussed. The Union’s understanding of these agreed terms is set out below.

Minimum Staffing and Roster

The Union agrees to the permanent staffing of Perisher Fire Station on the Special Roster with a minimum staff of SO & 3. The Union understands that these positions will be filled using an ongoing system of temporary country reliefs. Further, the Union suggests that Captain Mills may be detailed to work the same hours as the permanent staff and be paid in accordance with the Retained Award. It must be noted however that where Captain Mills (or any other retained firefighter) replaces permanent staff (ie. forms part of the minimum crew during the permanent rostered hours of work), such employee shall be paid in accordance with subclause 6.8 of the Retained Award.

Permanent Staff responding outside Rostered Hours of Work

The Union accepts that all permanent staff may be issued with pagers. These pagers will allow the permanent staff the ability to respond to out of hours calls received by the Perisher Fire Brigade. Notwithstanding the provisions of subclause 9.5.2 of the permanent Award, the Union does not agree to the implementation of an “on call” roster for permanent staff performing duty at Perisher. Thus the Union requires a commitment from the Department that permanent members will not be subject to any disciplinary measures/action, should they fail to attend any out of hours incidents.
Where permanent members do attend incidents outside of their rostered hours of work, such members shall be paid. The Union contends that, where permanent members form part of a minimum crew (ie. there are less than four retained firefighters in attendance) such members should be paid in accordance with subclause 9.6 of the permanent Award.

However, in recognition of the unique nature of the Perisher Fire Brigade, the Union has agreed, on a without prejudice basis, to allow such attendances to be paid in accordance with subclause 9.5 of the permanent Award. This agreement will be subject to ongoing review by the Union and the Union reserves its right to withdraw such agreement should it be observed that Department abuses this agreement or the Union’s members are being significantly disadvantaged as a result.

Accommodation Arrangements

The Union understands that there is little or no accommodation available on a permanent basis within the Perisher Valley. For this reason, the Union accepts that permanent members performing duty at the Perisher Fire Brigade will be provided with dormitory style accommodation. The Union accepts that this accommodation satisfies the broad definition of Government provided accommodation as outlined in Clause 26 of the permanent Award. This acceptance, however, is subject to an undertaking by the Department to promptly address any obvious deficiencies that may be identified by members who take up such accommodation.

Accordingly, the Union understands that members will be entitled to the allowances outlined at Items 4,5,6 & 10 of Table 4 of Part D of the permanent Award, for each day that they occupy the accommodation at Perisher.

Transport to and from Perisher Valley

The Union understands that the Department has agreed to reimburse each member for the forward journey to and the return journey from Perisher Valley in the following manner:

1) Payment shall be made at the rate prescribed at Item 1 of Table 4 of Part D of the permanent Award per kilometre travelled between the member’s residence and the Perisher Fire Station.

2) Payment for travelling time (subject to the ceiling set at Item 3 of Table 4 of Part D of the Award) for the actual time spent travelling between the member’s residence and Perisher Fire Station, without any reference to modes of public transport given the lack of availability and practicality.

Selection of Permanent Staff and Period of Relief

The Union requires that the relief duties at Perisher Fire Station be advertised in In Orders and that suitably qualified applicants should be invited to submit expressions of interest in such duties. Where there are more expressions of interest than there are practical periods of relief for a given year, the Union requires that the selection of both permanent firefighters and Station Officers be conducted by way of a ballot.

The Union recommends that the Department make it a condition of relief during the ski season that such members be required to make themselves available for a period of relief during the off season months. However, the Union does not require this as a condition of its agreement. This particular matter may be the subject of further discussion between the parties, but must be clarified prior to the publication of the advertisement in In Orders so as to provide an element of certainty to those wishing to apply.

The Union further understands that the Department wishes to have at least two accredited rescue operators per shift. To this end, the Union would recommend that this be made abundantly clear in the advertisement in In Orders so as to avoid any later claims that certain members were overlooked.

The Union will require a draft of the advertisement, which is proposed for publication in In Orders, for approval prior to its publication, and will provide an officer to act as a scrutineer at the resultant ballot.

Provision of Cold Climate Clothing and PPE

The Union trusts that all permanent members performing duties at Perisher will be provided with the appropriate Cold Climate Clothing and PPE upon arrival at Perisher. This will obviously require the Department to make arrangements in advance to ensure that each member is provided with the correct sizes upon arrival. The Union will require confirmation that such steps are being taken in addition to advice regarding the clothing and PPE that will be provided.

The Union trusts that these terms and conditions satisfy the needs of the Department in this respect. Should the Department wish to discuss any aspects of these terms and conditions, please do not hesitate to contact Iain Bailey on 9267-5552.

Yours faithfully,
Iain Bailey
Industrial Officer
for State Secretary

State Rail Authority Fire Service – Back from the Dead

Last November the SRA Fire Service, a small group of rail firefighters employed by the SRA and based in Redfern, was closed down without warning. The SRA firefighters responded in support of the NSWFB to major rail incidents, and to all calls on the city underground rail system. Railways are dangerous areas at the best of times, and the SRA firefighters had intricate knowledge of track safety, rail signals, tunnel networks, rail fire systems, etc. It follows that when the SRA axed its firefighters, they also stripped our members of an important support service, placing NSWFB firefighters at further risk along with the commuting public. Our Union therefore demanded – under threat of industrial action – that the Government agree by today to the immediate return of the SRA firefighters.

There’s still some detail for us to negotiate, but the 10 former SRA firefighters have now all got their jobs back. Not surprisingly, they’ve also joined the FBEU. Stay United!

Chris Read
State Secretary
Friday 9th June, 2000



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