As many members would now be aware our Death and Disability Award officially ended yesterday – Saturday March 21st 2009. Under NSW labour law our Award stays intact until a new Award is either settled by agreement with the government, or arbitrated by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC).
Our D&D Award was the first public sector defined benefit scheme to be opened in NSW for over 20 years. This means the NSW government carries the risk should the number of claims made through the scheme exceed the contributions made by firefighters and government. Thankfully this has not happened and over recent years NSW government accounts show $11 million was taken from the scheme over and above the benefits paid out to members.
With the recent collapse of stock markets around the world and a massive contraction of available credit, the International Monetary Fund is claiming this is the biggest recession since the World War II. Governments in the USA, Europe and Japan are pumping Trillions of taxpayer dollars into private corporations like banks and car manufacturers to stave complete economic collapse. In effect governments are spending far more than they are collecting and most Western governments will soon be operating deficits – and cutting public expenditure.
In order avoid a major dispute with the NSW government over our D&D Award at this time the Union’s State Committee of Management resolved at its last meeting to seek settlement of the D&D Award with minimal changes other than an increase in benefits commensurate with the increased contributions provided for by our wage increases.
On Friday March 20th the Union filed an application for a new Death and Disability Award with the IRC. The Union has now met with the Department to discuss the D&D on a number of occasions and both parties are looking to settle the new Award as a matter of highest priority.