As flagged last week (see SITREP 10/2009) the Union and Department spent much of today before a Full Bench (ie. 3 judges) of the Industrial Relations Commission over the Department’s attempt to dumb-down the job (and our wages) by removing the current Award requirement for Recruit members to leave the college with Certificate III.
The Union today argued against the removal of any reference to nationally recognised qualifications, which we say is completely out of step with contemporary industrial relations generally, and developments within the firefighting industry in particular.
We also submitted that not only should the Award’s existing reference to PSTP Certificate III be retained, but that new references to Certificate IV and Diploma qualifications should be inserted as well. The Union remains committed to NSW firefighters having the highest levels of training, skills and qualifications – and therefore, the highest rates of pay.
Today concluded without resolution, and the Union and the Deparmtent have been directed to hold further discussions before the dispute returns again to the Commission shortly. More to follow.
Retained members, Clause 29 and Major emergencies
With a volatile fire season looming, firefighters from across the state will once again be involved in task forces to combat major fires. While permanent members’ conditions remain unaltered (including penalty rates) by the nature of an incident, Retained members will often find themselves working under their Award’s Clause 29, Attendance at Major Emergencies. Clause 29 provides separate provisions for time in attendance, travel time, meals and accommodation.
It is important to note that a major emergency must first be declared and Clause 29 must be activated prior to the firefighter leaving his/her station. Members should know which Award provisions you will be working under (Clause 6 or Clause 29), because this will have a significant impact upon your payment. If you haven’t been advised of which clause you will be working under prior to departure to a major incident, then you should claim under Clause 6 and, if your claim is rejected, contact the Union.