What a difference a week makes. We are pleased to confirm that after being repeatedly lectured that there could be no agreement on back pay if the Union proceeded with its Special Case before the IRC – and week or so of bans – a formal offer was this week received from the Department for new 1 year awards. If accepted by the membership, this proposal will see all permanent and retained members (and our recent retirees) receive a 4% wage increase, backdated to the end of the last awards, while the Union’s Special Case claim with the IRC for a 20% wage increase (at 10% pa) is heard later this year.
The State Committee is scheduled to review the Department’s offer and make its recommendation to members next Friday, and a Special General Meeting is expected to follow in the week commencing Monday 7 June. The details of that SGM (and associated Sub-Branch meetings) are expected to follow shortly thereafter.
Retained Award – D&D Variations
On 15 April 2004, the Industrial Relations Commission varied our Death and Disability Award at clause 5.9 to make retained members’ contributions mandated employer contributions. This was done as Regulation 7.04 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 requires that (most) employees must work at least 10 hours per week before trustees of superannuation funds (such as our new D&D Superannuation Fund) can accept those members’ contributions.
This requirement would have disqualified a large chunk of retained members being covered by the D&D Fund. The practical way around this was to make the retained contributions mandated employer contributions, ie, paid by the employer. To even up the ledger, retainers will now be reduced by $25 per month. Put simply, all retained firefighters are now effectively salary sacrificing for their D&D contributions. Apart from ensuring all retained members remain covered by the D&D Fund, these changes will result in just about all retained members paying less on a net (“cash in hand”) basis. The Union’s officials welcomed this change because whilst almost all permanent members had chosen to salary sacrifice their D&D contributions, only a very low proportion of retained members had taken the option.
That these changes were necessary illustrates the absurd complexity of Australian superannuation law – something your Union’s officials discovered first hand during our extended negotiations over the establishment of the D&D Super Fund.
PS – Whilst on the topic of D&D, the ongoing process of clearing outstanding claims has already seen more than $5.5M paid out to former permanent and retained members, or their families.Stay United!