SITREP No. 24/2009
December 11, 2009
- Department attacks your qualifications – and loses
- Hazmat response into RFS areas – update
- RFSA behaves unprofessionally
- Superannuation: are you ripping yourself off?
Department attacks your qualifications – and loses
The Full Bench this week settled our dispute with the Department over Certificate III (see SITREP’s 10, 11, 20 and 22), by varying the Permanent Award’s Clause 13 as follows:
Recruit Firefighter to Firefighter Level 1
13.3 Recruit Firefighters shall be on probation until they have progressed to Firefighter Level 1, or for a period of six months, whichever is the lesser. Progression from Recruit Firefighter to Firefighter Level 1 shall be subject to the satisfactory completion of Certificate 3 (Firefighting and Emergency Operations) the training and/or training competencies undertaken at the NSW Fire Brigades Training College and specified, by the Commissioner on the advice of the Training Review Committee, for progression to Firefighter Level 1.
Firefighter Level 1 to Firefighter Level 2
13.4 Progression from Firefighter Level 1 to Firefighter Level 2 shall be subject to twenty four (24) months service from the date of commencement as a Recruit Firefighter and to the satisfactory completion of and the training and/or training competencies specified, by the Commissioner on the advice of the Training Review Committee, for progression to Firefighter Level 2.
Firefighter Level 2 to Qualified Firefighter
13.5.1 Progression from Firefighter Level 2to Qualified Firefighter shall be subject to thirty six (36) months service from the date of commencement as a Recruit Firefighter and to the satisfactory completion of the training and/or training competencies specified, by the Commissioner on the advice of the Training Review Committee, for progression to Qualified Firefighter.
13.5.2 For Recruit Firefighters employed on or after 1 January 2010 progression from Firefighter Level 2 to Qualified Firefighter shall be subject to the attainment of Certificate III (Firefighting Operations) and to the satisfactory completion of the training and/or training competencies specified, by the Commissioner on the advice of the Training Review Committee, for progression to Qualified Firefighter.
The Department first attempted to delete any reference to Certificate III and then, after the Full Bench accepted the Union’s argument for the retention of formal industry qualifications, to shift the awarding of Certificate III from Recruit to Qualified Firefighter. While the parties agreed that Certificate III could no longer be delivered upon the completion of Recruit training, the Union argued that 24 months was more than enough time and the Department argued for at least 36 months. In a clear rejection of the Department’s position, the Full Bench instead removed the previous 36 month service requirement altogether, thereby leaving the way open for future members to attain Certificate III and promotion to Qualified Firefighter rank in as little as 24 months.
During this dispute the Union offered a solution which would have cost only $40,000 pa. The Department said no and by doing so, ended up costing itself an additional $500,000 pa instead.
It is always good to see sanity prevail. However, the problem is not limited to hazmat. This week management responded two Retained members in their private vehicles, together with their station’s Thermal Imaging Camera, to an RFS fireground. They were then expected to ride the RFS appliance while getting the TIC to work.
This is not on, and even contravenes the Department’s own In Orders. For a start, the pump should have been deployed – not two members in their own vehicles. Secondly, and more importantly, we do not mix crews with the RFS or any other agency for that matter. If instructed to do so members should refuse, and contact the Union immediately.
Rural Fire Service Association behaves unprofessionally
Earlier this week Channel 7 reported on the growing problem of urban growth into Rural Fire Districts, and the reluctance of the RFS to hand over such areas to the appropriate combat agency – the NSWFB.
Well the raffle-mad RFSA jumped the gun with a ridiculous press release three hours before Channel 7’s story went to air, moaning that every time the Union raises these issues we do so out of a mad desire for “Union Power” at the expense of the people of NSW. Their release was so laughable that we’ve attached it for the amusement of members here.
Jokes aside, and their lies not withstanding, the FBEU will continue to campaign for fair, rational fire districts. The RFS does not respond to our argument and instead claims that we are bashing volunteers. Nothing is further from the truth. Volunteers have an important role in our industry. But the highly paid bureaucrats who run the RFS/RFSA, and who are more concerned with empire building than community safety, are not “volunteers”. They need to be stood up to, and sadly the FBEU remains the only group willing to do so. More to follow.
Superannuation: are you ripping yourself off?
For SASS and SSS members remember you can salary sacrifice your contributions.
At a combined Public Sector superannuation meeting this week the Union was informed that the salary sacrifice take up rate amongst SASS members across the public sector was only 47%, and for SSS it was 68.5%. Generally salary sacrificing these contributions will save you tax, but of course individual members should take into account their own financial situation before doing so.