There were no negotiations held between the parties over the last week, save for a brief meeting between the Union and the Minister. The parties remain scheduled to report back to the IRC on Thursday 29 March, by which time we expect the way forward to be much, much clearer to all. Further actuarial work is being carried out at the moment to review and confirm the costings of possible super schemes for firefighters which were first developed back in 1998, and that information should be provided to us early this week following which negotiations will resume.
There appears to be some confusion amongst members on the question of a new super scheme. Firstly, a new scheme is far from being “in the bag” just yet – in fact it’s probably fair to say that this remains the Government’s least-preferred option. Secondly, if there is a new scheme then no-one will be forced off their existing scheme if they don’t want to be – if and when it happens it will simply become an option available to each member to decide for themselves. Thirdly, all of the talk about renewed Government buy-out offers to old scheme members is just that – talk. Their buy-out offer of last year was as good as it was going to get, which we all now know wasn’t really very good at all (explaining why less than 1% of SSF members eventually took their shoddy bait).
It’s of more than just passing interest for us to note the NSW Labor Party’s current policy on public sector superannuation, which reads (in part):
“Labor is opposed to the reductions in superannuation standards which have occurred in New South Wales with the introduction of First State Super to the public sector based on the SGC standard only. Labor is committed to the introduction of a public sector superannuation scheme which recognises the responsibility of the Government, as an employer, to provide reasonable superannuation benefits to its employees. Labor believes that First State Super and the SGC provides the base for a minimum only level of superannuation benefits, and as such, should not be accepted by major employers as being the minimum level of contributions to be offered to employees.”
(Note: The “SGC standard” is the Superannuation Guarantee Contribution – the bare-bones minimum payment which must now be made by all employers towards their employees’ superannuation. It is currently fixed at 8% of an employee’s salary.)
So NSW Labor acknowledges that First State Super is unreasonable. Sounds promising, right? The problem is that Labor’s policy was first adopted by the ALP’s State Conference back in 1992 when Labor were in Opposition and John Fahey was the Premier who had just closed SASS. The Carr Labor Government has been in office for 6 years this month, more than enough time for them to match their words with action. More to follow…..