As members would be aware, this is the first year of the new Station Officers’ Promotional Program (SOPP) system of promotion to S/O rank. Entry into the SOPP is determined by the order or merit achieved by eligible candidates in each year’s Pre-Entry Test, which is basically a series of assessments designed to select the participants in that year’s SOPP. Sadly, the Department undermined the best efforts of our members in the Professional Development Unit to ensure that this first SOPP ran as smoothly and as fairly as possible.
Firstly, the Department completely underestimated the number of S/O’s positions which were required for the coming year when they advertised only 40 SOPP positions in In Orders 2002/3 – a number we were quick to point out was well below the number we all knew would actually be needed. Next, senior management then somehow managed to leak the results of all candidates on the very day that they were first compiled. The contempt shown for the security of these results, and the dignity of all candidates, proves yet again that even the best laid plans can be undermined by inept management. It is a sorry state of affairs when our members first learn of their results from other members via the PAX, or by having to ring their Union office. The Union has already registered our strongest protest with the Department over this episode, and we will be seeking explanations during our review of this year’s program with a view to preventing such clumsy Departmental bungling in future.
On a positive note, we are today able to confirm that negotiations held late into this afternoon have resulted in some sanity prevailing, because the Union has now secured agreement for the top 60, not 40, candidates to be admitted to this year’s SOPP. Further, we have also ensured that all 60 successful candidates will now be promoted to (and be paid at) the rank of Leading Firefighter as of last Friday, 5 April. It is important, however, for members to understand that under the new SOPP system no Leading Firefighter will be permitted to act-up to Station Officer until such time as they have completed, and passed, the SOPP itself. The first 8 week SOPP course of 20 Leading Firefighters is scheduled to commence on Monday 22 April.
These revised arrangements are expected to be confirmed in this Friday’s In Orders.
Union Sub-Branch Elections
Last Friday the Union’s Returning Officer, Jim Casey, circulated a notice calling for nominations for all Sub-Branch Committeepersons for the 3 year term 2002 to 2005. If you want to become more involved in your Union then this is your chance.
Faxed to all members’ workplaces today is a sheet providing a broad explanation of the Union’s Sub-Branch structure. The basic rule is that all members are already members of their Sub-Branch, although you cannot belong to more than one Sub-Branch. Therefore, with the exception of the Retained and Senior Officers’ Sub-Branches, your Sub-Branch membership is determined by the area in which you work. If you’re not sure which Sub-Branch (or Region) you’re in then a simple phone call to the Union office will put you right. Nominations for all Sub-Branch Committeeperson positions close at 12 noon on Friday 26 April (nomination forms can be faxed to you on request by calling the Union office).