SITREP 08/11

February 26, 2011

Inside this issue:

  • February SGM results
  • 2011 Awards
  • Advice from one Liberal leader to another – sack ‘em!
  • Managers managing in regional FRNSW?

February SGM Results

Over 700 members attended yesterday’s SGM and associated Sub-Branch meetings, the results of which were as follows:

Question 1. From the State Committee re: 2011 Awards – Carried (369 for, 321 against)
Question 2. From the State Committee re: staffing priorities – Lost (307 for, 327 against)
Question 3. From the Senior Officers’ Sub-Branch re: FRNSW staffing – Carried (647 for, 22 against)
Question 4. From the rank and file (Rule 11(2)) re: FRNSW staffing – Carried (601 for, 63 against)
Question 5. From the State Committee re: Marine 1 staffing – Lost (170 for, 490 against)
Question 6. From the State Committee re: Marine 1 and Cross-Crewing – Carried (569 for, 74 against)

A copy of the draft minutes of that meeting, including a breakdown of the voting on each question, is now available to members via the Members Forum section of the Union’s website.

2011 Awards

While Question 1 regarding the 2011 Awards was obviously a very close vote, it nonetheless provided a majority in favour of the proposed terms of settlement for the 2011 Permanent Firefighting Staff Award. That vote may yet prove to be academic. Members who opposed the motion can take some comfort from today’s IRC proceedings, which confirmed that there is still no agreement from the Department, or the Government, for a new Award on those terms. Or any terms for that matter.

Members who did not attend the SGM may not be aware that next Friday, 4 March is the last possible day for agreement for a new award to be reached prior to next month’s state election. The Union has arranged a conference with the Department on Monday morning in what looms as a make or break meeting.

Retained Sub-Branch members are now in the process of meeting to consider and vote on the proposed terms of settlement for the 2011 Retained Firefighting Staff Award. More to follow.

Advice from one Liberal leader to another – sack ‘em!

As Barry O’Farrell prepares to assume government he is receiving advice from all quarters, including the former Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett. Among Jeff’s pearls of wisdom, quoted in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, came the following:

–      ‘Barry O’Farrell must be ready to sack most departmental heads, rush pre-written legislation through Parliament and unleash a whirlwind of change on half a dozen fronts if he wants to reform the state’.

–      “Go fast early on,” was his advice. ”The most important issue is not to try and address one issue on its own and then move to the next. If you do that all of those who oppose you will coalesce around one issue … If you attack all areas of government at the same time, you break your forces and each then settle down to protect their particular patch. You divide your enemy – old military tactic.”

All this is advice is from hard-bitten (and bitter) experience, with the article going on to note thatwhen Mr Kennett took control of Victoria he tackled huge government debt by retrenching 50,000 public servants, closing 350 schools, privatising a host of government services and amalgamating councils.”

For more insight into what we can expect under the Coalition come 26 March, read the full article:

Managers managing in regional FRNSW?

The last couple of weeks have seen the Department try on various cost cutting measures in different Zones. Rather than implement one strategy across the board, it seems the Department has attempted to “unleash a whirlwind of change on half a dozen fronts” (see above).

In a memo dated 16 February 2011, Zone RN1 management attempted to slash the amount of authorised duties being worked by retained in direct contravention of the Department’s own In Order 2000/17 which identifies the number of allocated hours for authorised duties. Those hours in that In Order weren’t plucked from the air, they were negotiated and agreed with the Union and clearly form part of retained members’ conditions.  Members are instructed to ignore the memo and to continue to work to the hours set out in In Order 2000/17. Any member who is challenged or questioned by management for adhering to this instruction is to contact the Union immediately.

In another memo dated 14 February 2011, Zone RS3 management instructed Station Commanders to cease all spending immediately, especially in relation to ESCAT orders and petty cash. This blanket direction is as offensive as it is foolish, presuming that prior to that instruction our members were spending like drunken sailors for the sake of it. Members should continue purchasing items that are required to run their fire station and, once again, should contact the Union if questioned for doing so.

Not to be outdone, on 18 February 2011 Zone RW1 management issued a memo advising retained members that Senior Instructor Country drills would in future be included within, rather than in addition to, the two scheduled drills per month. This misguided direction is a blatant cut to existing operational training, and to members’ earnings. It is also in breach of the Clause 24 of the Award and contrary to the Union’s discussions with the Department regarding the Station Training Program. We won’t even start on the de-skilling and industrial implications of the proposed “target training”.

That last memo was cynically dressed up as an attempt to provide, and I quote, more time for all Retained with their family and primary employers’ (ie, not at the fire station draining the Zone budget). Members in RW1 are instructed to ignore that memo and to continue to arrange and conduct stations and SIC drills as normal and again, to contact the Union immediately if challenged for doing so.

Jim Casey
State Secretary



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