SITREP No. 29/2010

July 23, 2010

Inside this issue:

  • Learning and Development restructure update
  • Qualification allowances paid week in, week out
  • National paid parental leave from 1 January 2011
  • Four hour backpay win
  • Part-time work and part-time dues

Learning and Development Restructure update

The Union and Department met this week to continue discussions around the restructure of Learning and Development. Whilst the Union has agreed in-principle to a restructure based on the three arms of development, programming and delivery, the finer details are still to be resolved – in particular the number and allocation of Instructor positions. The Department has provided the Union with some position descriptions, but not all, and these have now been provided to members in L&D for comment. Members’ comments on these position descriptions should be emailed to the Union office asap.

Finally, members report that the newly-arrived Director yesterday advised that all existing L&D positions will be spilled and re-advertised. This directly contradicts the advice given by the Commissioner to me on Tuesday this week, and should therefore be disregarded. No decision has or can be made about the filling of new positions and the reallocation of existing positions until the final structure is confirmed and position descriptions are agreed. The Union is acutely aware of the potential impact on incumbents and job numbers and will not allow changes to be implemented without these matters being resolved.

Qualification allowances paid week in, week out

A quick reminder for permanent members that with the exception of the relieving allowance (which is payable for each shift actually worked) all of the Clause 6 qualification allowances (including marine, aerial, rescue, hazmat and comms allowances) are payable week in, week out, including when on leave (workers comp, annual leave, long service leave, sick leave, etc). In fact the only time when these allowances are not payable is for any period of Leave Without Pay.

The Union understands that some relievers (and members on out-duties) are not being paid these allowances when they are away from their base stations. This is not correct, and members should seek backpay for any weeks they have not been paid a relevant allowance.

National paid parental leave from 1 January 2011

Australia’s first national Paid Parental Leave scheme, which starts on 1 January 2011:

  • is for eligible working parents of children born or adopted on or after 1 January 2011
  • can be transferred to the other parent
  • is paid at the National Minimum Wage – currently $570 a week before tax
  • is for up to 18 weeks
  • can be taken any time within the first year after birth.

Importantly, members should note that the national Paid Parental scheme does not replace nor reduce the paid maternity leave provisions of our Awards (14 weeks) or paid paternity leave provisions (1 week). It will be payable in addition to our existing entitlements.

For more information on the scheme, please check

Four Hour backpay win

Despite the Union having run and won the case for a minimum four hour payment for recalls worked prior to the start of shift (see notice dated 13 February 2009), the Department refused to make retrospective payments for any member who was unable to prove that he/she did not receive prior notice. Another dispute then followed, this time over whether the Department or the member was required to prove that the member was given prior notice for each recall in question.

The Union took this dispute back to the Industrial Relations Commission and as a result, the following terms will now apply:

  • Disputed recalls worked prior to the Full Bench decision of 29 August 2008 which are supported by telephone records will now be paid; and
  • Recalls worked between 1 July 2007 and 29 August 2008 which are supported by time sheet entries made at the time the overtime was worked will also be paid.

Members who are yet to submit a claim are encouraged to do so before 29 August 2010, because claims submitted after that date will be subject to the statutory limit and will only be able to include recalls worked within the last six years.

Part-time work and part-time dues

Further to SITREP 27/2010 and consistent with the Union’s support for appropriate part-time work arrangements for permanent members, the Union’s State Committee recently adopted the following policy on pro-rata dues for part time workers:

“That consistent with standing policy that allows for the waiving of Union dues whilst members are on leave without pay from the firefighting industry and further, the long-standing Rule whereby retained membership dues are fixed at 20% of permanent dues in recognition of the reduced income derived from the firefighting industry by the very great majority of retained members in comparison to their permanent counterparts, this meeting resolves that permanent members:

a) who commence part time work with the NSWFB; and

b) who make application to the State Secretary for a reduction in their Union dues pursuant to Rule 33(3); and

c) whose application is subsequently approved by the State Committee of Management;

shall be entitled to a 40% remit of Union dues whilst they remain engaged in part time work, provided that immediately upon their return to full time work, such members shall revert to and remain liable for the full dues payable by them in accordance with Rule 6.”

Permanent members who worked part-time, either on the Part-Time Roster or in a job share arrangement, during the 2009/10 financial year are therefore now invited to apply to the State Secretary for consideration of a proportional remit of their dues for the 2009/10 financial year.

Jim Casey

State Secretary



Recent news: