Since lifting our bans on 8 August, good progress has been made in our dispute with the Department over the new 2002 Regulation. Most areas of concern have since been resolved, and agreement on the remaining issues is expected by the time we return to the IRC this week. The current 1997 Regs were set to be replaced on 1 September by the new Regs, but the dispute forced this date back by a nominal 12 months pending final agreement.
New Firefighting Helmets
New lighter and better fitting helmets have been agreed upon, and are expected to be issued to members by early in the new year. Ranks will now be identified by revised helmet colours and tape markings – firefighters staying with lime yellow helmets but being distinguished by black tape (for permanents) and red tape (for retained) markings. Fireground safety and accountability will be greatly improved through the issuing to Captains of orange, Station Officers red and Senior Officers white helmets.
No to new Service numbers
Whilst discussions continue over a Departmental proposal to replace all current service numbers with new, common employee numbers to help out the infamous StarGarden payroll system, the Union has already made clear our members’ preference for the retention of the traditional service numbering system.
The dispute between State Rail over excessive overtime worked by our State Rail Authority Fire Service (SRAFS) members and the need for additional staff was recently resolved when management finally agreed to the Union’s demands for two additional positions. Or at least we thought it was resolved, because State Rail has since turned around to say that no new staff can be engaged before October at the earliest. Negotiations continue, albeit awkwardly.
In other developments, a Ministerial/union working party was recently established to examine the possible transfer of our SRAFS members from State Rail over to the NSWFB.
Negotiations continue (and remain on track) over the finer points of the new D&D benefits, with the Union advising that Government that we expect a formal start up date of the new arrangements by February 2003 at the latest – at which point member contributions are also expected to begin. All SASS and FSS members remain fully covered, however, in the interim.
Good Service Badges
These badges are paid to permanent firefighters: one badge after 5 years, 2 after 10 years and 3 after 15 years of service. Whilst each badge is currently worth only 5 cents per day (or $18.25 per badge per year), this 5 cent rate has not been adjusted since 1966. I wasn’t around in 1966, but I’m reliably told that you could buy a paddle pop with 5 cents. They now cost $1.
The Union is demanding an immediate (and suitably large) increase to redress this long-standing rip off. And the Department is of course expected to say no, which means members will probably be hearing more about Good Service Badges in the coming weeks. Stay United!