Members vote YES, new Awards now in force
June 10, 2004
The motion put to members at this week’s SGM, and the vote from each meeting/Sub-Branch, was as follows:
“That the proposed 2004 Permanent and Retained Awards, as reported to and tabled at this meeting, be received, noted and endorsed, and that the State Secretary be authorised to now arrange for the making of those Awards by the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW.”
Sub-Branch – For/Against
Newcastle Sub-Branch – 40/12
Illawarra Sub-Branch – 57/0
Sydney NW/SW Sub-Branches – 49/3
Central Coast Sub-Branch – 38/1
Retained Sub-Branch – 68/46
Country Sub-Branch – 54/57
Sydney SGM – 38/3
TOTAL – 344 for, 122 against
Confirmation of the Union’s approval for the proposed Awards was conveyed to the Department following the conclusion of the Sydney SGM, and the IRC’s Justice Grayson made both new Awards at a hearing scheduled for 3.30pm yesterday afternoon. It follows that both the Permanent and Retained 2004 Awards are now in force.
New provisions now apply
Members are reminded that with the exception of the Retained Award’s proposed kms cap (see below) the new provisions detailed in the “Overview of New Awards” notice of 4 June now apply.
In particular, permanent members should note that the previous “inside 5kms, no payment” provision under the old Clause 12, Relieving Provisions has been removed, and that all movements from one station to another now attract the new, higher $0.83 per km payment and should therefore be claimed.
Similarly, retained members should note the revised subclause 7.2.5 in the 2004 Retained Award, which provides that when multiple brigades respond, the higher duties payment will be made to each employee in charge of each brigade, even if a Captain from another brigade is present.
The “Overview of New Awards” notice on Friday, 4 June advised of several proposed changes to the 2004 Retained Award, including that:
Payment for forward and return journeys to the station to attend incidents will be capped at 6km; and
A new payment to the same 6 km cap will now be paid to members for transport to attend regular station drills.
Following that notice, many retained members expressed strong objection to those proposals, arguing that the benefit of the new drills payment would not offset the significant financial penalty many members would suffer through the 6km cap for response to incidents. Conversely, not one member contacted the Union’s officials to record their support for the new drills payment. As result, the Union withdrew its support for both proposals in favour of the status quo – there is no km cap in the new 2004 Award and Clause 9 has remained unchanged.
Permanent members will receive their 4% back pay for the period 5 March to 10 June on the next scheduled pay day, being Thursday 24 June. Retained members will receive their 4% pay increase for the period 1 April to 30 June in the mid-July monthly pays. In both cases, the Department will calculate the back pay amount by taking a “snap shot” of all payments which were made to each member within those respective periods and then applying the 4% increase to that figure. The Union expects that this approach should be accurate, however the Department has agreed to review individual claims if any member believes they have been short-changed.
As an indication (only) of the sort of back pay involved, a Qualified Firefighter who performed no overtime and received no allowances over that time should receive $541.38 (being the difference between the new weekly rate @ $1005.52 and the old rate @ $966.85 = $38.67 multiplied by 14 weeks = $541.38). Similarly, the back pay for a Station Officer Level 2 with no o/t and no allowances over that time will be $676.90 ($1256.93 – $1208.58 = $48.35 x 14 = $676.90). It is not possible to give an indication of retained back pay as the amount payable will vary from member to member according to attendances and other authorised duties performed over that time.
In accordance with the Union’s registered rules, Union membership dues will also increase by 4% (although any back dues will be waived). Dues for permanent members will rise from $8.41 to $8.75 per week, and for retained members from $1.68 to $1.75 per week.
The Union is closely reviewing the IRC’s published reasons for its decision to award 12% in the teachers’ Special Case. That will take some time (it’s an extensive document), however the Teachers’ Federation has already made its disappointment clear.
In that decision, the IRC accepted “that there had undoubtedly been significant changes in the work performed by teachers since the 1991 datum point, and when considered as a whole, those changes represent a ‘significant net addition to work requirements’ of teachers”. The IRC also acknowledged “the introduction of ‘revolutionary’ curriculum changes and outcomes based education since … 1991”, and further agreed that the teachers’ union had “demonstrated the extraordinary degree of change that has impacted on the work of teachers since 1991.”
The reason that teachers are disappointed is that despite accepting 13 years of “revolutionary” change to their jobs, the IRC still saw fit to award the teachers only 6% a year.
By comparison, the 4% (with back pay) which the FBEU this week secured in return for a limited list of “initiatives and improvements” over only 4 years will hopefully now be seen by all members for the solid result that it is.
Of course not all members thought so, as evidenced by the vote from the Country and Retained Sub-Branches this week. The combined CSB/RSB vote on the Awards was 122 for to 103 against, whereas the combined vote for the remaining meetings was 222 for to only 19 against. Why? One possible explanation is that whilst Union officials were able to attend all of the latter meetings, practical limitations meant that only two of the many CSB/RSB meetings could be similarly attended. This is not a criticism of the way any member or Sub-Branch voted, but rather an observation that CSB/RSB meetings are generally not receiving the same level of information as other Sub-Branch meetings. Whilst there’s no simple answer given the logistics (and considerable expense) involved, the Union’s officials will nonetheless again review our general meeting procedures in an attempt to address this issue.