SITREP No. 4/2011

January 28, 2011

Inside this issue:

  • Call for ‘fringe benefits’ from lunatic fringe
  • Dept of Health pay deals
  • RTW and Medical retirements – get advice

Call for ‘fringe benefits’ from lunatic fringe

The hypocrites at the Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) outdid themselves last week with a hilarious press release warning that volunteers would leave the RFS in droves if anyone ever tried to pay them. See

The story was ignored en-masse by the media, but like many of the RFSA’s  publications, we found it too good to let pass without comment.

RFSA President Brian McKinlay warns that “experienced volunteers ‘will walk’ if there is any suggestion of payment”. McKinlay then proceeds to call (with a presumably straight face) for a raft of financial benefits for “volunteers” including paid leave to attend emergencies, payment for their employers when they do so, income tax breaks and reimbursements, special Medicare arrangements, free D&D-style insurance and even free car registration. In other words, just about any and every form of payment except for, well, payment. Anything to avoid becoming a dreaded “employee”.

McKinlay’s call is as bogus as the outfit he heads up. The truth is that it would be cheaper, easier and a whole lot more honest just to pay RFS firefighters an hourly rate and a retainer and be done with it.

Dept of Health pay deals

Last Christmas eve, the Health Services Union and Ambulance Service of NSW lodged a new four-year award with the IRC. The award provides for annual increases of 4%, 4%, 3.9% and 3.7% commencing on and from 1 June 2010. While the award is not yet publicly available, it appears to conform with the Government’s 2.5% per annum offer, with anything extra being funded  by so-called “employee-related productivity cost offsets”. Those trade offs are understood to include pay cuts of $40,000 for Extended Care Paramedics, the loss of incentives for paramedics to move to regional areas and the introduction of flexible and variable staffing levels across areas and within individual ambulance stations, which may result in them being taken offline.

The NSW Nurses Association is still negotiating a final offer, but we understand that it includes a wage increase of 9.4% over three years from July 2010 in return for the loss of a current sock/stocking allowance, as well as addressing the union’s claim for improved nurse-to-patient ratios.

RTW and Medical retirements – get advice

The Union has had a number of enquiries from members about their rights regarding return to work and medical retirement. Members who are on workers compensation can find general information through the Workcover website, including the new Return to Work guidelines, but should also contact the Union’s solicitors for tailored advice on their entitlements. Further, if you or the Department are talking about the possibility of medical retirement – regardless of whether the injury is on or off duty – then you should contact the Union as early as possible to discuss available benefits and options.

Jim Casey
State Secretary



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