2007 February Special General Meeting
February 2, 2007
In accordance with Rule 11, a Special General Meeting of members will be held on Wednesday 21 February 2007, commencing at 1000 hours at the Tom Mann Threatre, Chalmers Street, Surry Hills. Sub-Branch meeting details will be circulated separately and in due course.
- State Secretary’s report
- Motions on notice
1. Jointly Staffed Stations’ (Management, Staffing and Overtime) Policy
“That the following paper be received, noted and adopted as standing Union policy and further, that this policy form the basis for future negotiations between our Union and the Department on the issue of jointly staffed (ie both permanent and retained) station operations.
In resolving this way, this meeting considers the previous draft “Country Policy” that was first circulated in February 2001 by the Country Sub-Branch was not actually a country policy at all, but rather an attempt at a general permanent/retained policy that would (or at least should) impact upon all areas of the state including Newcastle, the Central Coast, Wollongong and the GSA. This policy is therefore framed with this universal, state-wide approach in mind.
It is also acknowledged that problems between permanent and retained members have not developed in every jointly staffed station – far from it in fact. Further, where problems have developed they have not necessarily developed uniformly, with the result being that the issues of concern to the members of one Station have been quite different to the concerns of other members elsewhere. The one true constant throughout the state has remained the near universal failure of the Department (and the Board of Fire Commissioners before it) to provide any sort of guidelines as to how these permanent/retained interface issues should be approached.
In approaching this policy, members are asked to bear in mind that the FBEU is a trade union, not an alternative arm of fire service management. Industrial and operational issues, whilst not necessarily mutually exclusive, should nonetheless be approached as two distinct considerations – and with two distinct priorities. It follows that our Union’s stance on any issue should be determined by those outcomes which we believe will work in the majority of our members’ best industrial interests, not those which management argue in the Department’s operational (and financial) interests. This policy has been framed with this fundamental principal in mind.
Finally, this meeting acknowledges that this is by no means a comprehensive policy. However, provided that all members treat each other with the mutual courtesy and respect that each of us is entitled to as fellow professional firefighters and Union members, and that commonsense is allowed to prevail, then a more comprehensive policy document should really not be necessary.
1. Management of Jointly Staffed Stations
1.1 Captains, Deputy Captains and Engine Keepers should be maintained and, if not present, appointed at all Stations with one or more dedicated retained appliances. For those Stations where every appliance is allocated 10/14 permanent staffing, and whose retained members are therefore on attrition, the above positions should remain in place through until the retirement or resignation of the incumbent on the understanding that such positions may not thereafter be replaced.
1.2 Subject to point 1.4, Captains should remain directly responsible for the management of the retained staff attached to their Brigade. This should include issues/functions such as the monitoring and maintenance of retained availability and the undertaking of all administrative functions concerning the retained members of that Station.
1.3 Station Officers should remain directly responsible for the management of the permanent members and all appliance(s) at their Station, including all administrative functions in connection with those permanent members as well as that of the physical Station environment generally (ie requisitioning of stores, Station maintenance, etc.).
1.4 Captains should report any deficiency in retained staff availability to the Station Officer, who in turn should then arrange with the Inspector for the recall or standing by of other members in accordance with point 3. Provided that if the Station Officer is not on duty or not available, or the Station in question is staffed solely by retained members, then the Captain should report any staff deficiencies directly to the relevant Inspector.
1.5 Whilst permanent and retained members at jointly staffed Stations should operate with general administrative independence, it is nonetheless intended that proper communication and consultation should continue between the Station Officer(s) and Captain directly, and between the permanent and retained members of the Station generally.
1.6 Where an issue of concern to both the permanent and retained members arises, the Captain and Station Officer should confer in the first instance as to how that issue should be resolved. In the event that the Captain and the Station Officer can not reach agreement on that issue, the Station Officer’s determination of the matter should prevail. Provided that it should remain open to either the Captain and/or the Station Officer to then place the matter before the relevant Inspector, who may in turn then make a determination on the matter in question.
2. Staffing of Appliances at Jointly Staffed Stations
2.1 Subject to points 2.2 and 2.3 and the maintenance of safe and effective minimum staffing at all times, each appliance at every jointly staffed Station may be staffed at the discretion of the Station Officer by either permanent members, retained members, or a combination of both.
2.2 Hazmat appliances (including vans and composites) should only ever be staffed by permanent members within the Newcastle, Central Coast, Illawarra and Greater Sydney areas. Beyond these areas, hazmat appliances should only be staffed by retained members, except where there are more than four permanent members available for that particular shift, in which case the excess permanent member(s) should then (and only then) staff a hazmat appliance.
2.3 With the exception of aerial appliances (including aerial pumpers), which should be staffed and operated only by permanent members, all members attached to a Station should be trained in and qualified to operate all appliances and equipment attached to and/or located at their Station.
2.4 At all jointly staffed Stations, the permanent members should generally remain committed to the staffing of their Station’s primary pumper (or aerial pumper, as the case may be). Similarly, retained members should always ensure that if (and/or whenever) there are no permanent members on shift at their Station then the primary pumper is the first appliance to be staffed with a safe minimum crew of four.
2.5 Subject to point 2.2, permanent members should not check or maintain any more than one appliance per shift, thereby leaving the Station’s remaining appliance(s) to be checked and maintained by the Station’s retained members in accordance with the Retained Award’s authorised duties provisions. Provided that if the permanent staffing for a given shift is in excess of Station Officer and three permanent firefighters, then the excess permanent member(s) should then (and only then) staff, check, operate and respond in a separate and additional appliance.
3. Recalls / Stand By Duties
Station Officer shortages
3.1 A permanent firefighter of at least Senior Firefighter rank should be permitted to assume command of his/her Station in the event that a Station Officer is absent. Provided that a Senior Firefighter should only be permitted to act in charge of their Station if:
3.1.1 there is no Station Officer or Leading Firefighter who is on duty and available to fill the Station Officer vacancy; and
3.1.2 there is no Station Officer or Leading Firefighter attached to any Station within the Fire District in which the Station Officer vacancy has arisen who is off duty and available for overtime on recall; and
3.1.3 the Station Officer shortage which gave rise to the vacancy in question was neither scheduled nor expected; and
3.1.4 the Station Officer shortage which gave rise to the vacancy in question was not expected to be anything other than a short-term absence.
3.2 A Senior Firefighter or Leading Firefighter who assumes command of a Station pursuant to point 3.1 should receive an ‘in-charge’ rate for the length of time in command. This ‘in-charge’ rate should be equivalent to the rate of pay of a Station Officer Level 1, and should apply for the duration of any ‘in-charge’ duty performed.
3.3 Where a Senior Firefighter or Leading Firefighter acts in lieu of a Station Officer pursuant to point 3.1, and by so doing causes a reduction in the minimum permanent staffing of Station Officer and three permanent firefighters at that Station, then a retained firefighter should be permitted to ‘stand-by’ provided that all of the requirements of point 3.4 are met.
Permanent Firefighter shortages
3.4 Both permanent and retained members should be permitted to fill permanent staff shortages on recall (permanents) or stand by (retained). Provided that retained members should only be permitted to stand by for permanent staff shortages if:
3.4.1 there is no permanent member who is on duty and available to fill the vacancy; and
3.4.2 there is no permanent member attached to any Station within the Fire District in which the vacancy has arisen who is off duty and available for overtime on recall; and
3.4.3 the permanent firefighter shortage which gave rise to the vacancy in question was neither scheduled nor expected; and
3.4.4 the permanent firefighter shortage which gave rise to the vacancy in question was not expected to be anything other than a short-term absence.
Retained (Captain, Deputy Captain and Firefighter) shortages
3.5 The Department should be permitted to fill any retained staff shortages by the use of permanent members on recall or retained members from another Station on stand by, provided that:
3.5.1 there is no Senior Firefighter, Leading Firefighter or Station Officer who is on duty and available to fill the retained staff shortage; and
3.5.2 if the Department elects to use a permanent member on recall, then the first permanent firefighter to be recalled should be of Senior Firefighter, Leading Firefighter or Station Officer rank only; and
3.5.3 all relevant award provisions are strictly adhered to and observed.
3.6 Permanent members who fill a retained shortage should not be considered to be acting in lieu of a Station Officer, nor to have assumed command of that Station. Similarly, retained members (including Captains and Deputy Captains) on stand by from another Station should not be considered to have assumed command of the Station at which they are standing by.
3.7 Nothing in point 3.5.2 should be taken to limit the performance of all recalls for retained shortages to permanent members of at least Senior Firefighter rank. It follows that at Stations where more than one retained staff shortage arises, the additional shortage(s) may be filled by permanent members of any rank, or alternatively, retained members of any rank from another Station on stand by, or a combination of both.
3.8 For the purposes of this policy, the term “any Station within the Fire District” should be taken to mean:
3.8.1 in the case of the Greater Sydney Area, all Stations within NSWFB Zones Metropolitan East 1, 2, & 3, South 2 & 3 and West 1 & 2; and
3.8.2 in the case of Newcastle, all Stations within NSWFB Zone Metropolitan North 1; and
3.8.3 in the case of the Central Coast, all Stations within NSWFB Zone Metropolitan North 2; and
3.8.4 in the case of the Illawarra, all Stations within NSWFB Zone Metropolitan South 1; and
3.8.5 In the case of any other area, its literal meaning.
3.9 For the purposes of this policy, a short term absence should be considered to be for a period of up to and including three days.
3.10 For the purposes of this policy, an absence which was neither scheduled nor expected should be taken to include an absence due to sick leave or personal/carer’s leave, etc., but should not be considered to include any periods of leave for which there was more than 4 days notice (eg annual leave, long service leave, etc.) or attendance elsewhere for training or interviews, etc.
3.11 Subject to this policy, recall and stand by duties should be allocated by management in such a way as to ensure that recalls (in the case of permanents) and stand by duties (retained) are allocated as equitably and evenly as possible amongst all eligible members.’”
State Committee of Management recommendation: SUPPORT
2. Regional Hazmat staffing
“That this meeting expresses concern over the existing inequities between metropolitan and regional Hazmat staffing arrangements and therefore resolves to campaign for the creation of dedicated permanent Hazmat positions in regional NSW and a corresponding increase in retained firefighter positions.”
State Committee of Management recommendation: SUPPORT
3. 2007 State Election and the use of Union resources
“That this meeting notes the clear and present threat posed by the Debnam Opposition to our Union, our conditions, our awards and the NSW Industrial Relations Commission & Act and in accordance with the objects of the Union including (but not limited to) Rule 6 (6):
‘securing the election of working class representatives in Parliament and promoting such legislative enactments as will ensure industrial justice to the Australian working class’;
this meeting endorses the use of Union resources, members and staff to support the election of candidates sympathetic to the trade union movement and to actively encourage members, their families and the communities we serve to put the Liberal/National coalition last in next month’s NSW election.”
State Committee of Management recommendation: SUPPORT
- Meeting close