SITREP No. 27/2011

July 15, 2011

Inside this issue:

  • Response of specialist appliances crewed by two firefighters
  • AFA charges up 50% (just don’t tell anyone)
  • O’Farrell’s “employee related cost savings” horror story
  • LSV Update
  • Reuse turnout gear, refuse duty wear
  • Meal and travel allowance increased from 1 July 2011

Response of specialist appliances crewed by two firefighters

As a result of concerns raised by the Union, this week’s Commissioner’s Orders 2011/15 includes a new policy that FRNSW aerial, Heavy Rescue or Heavy Hazmat appliances are always responded with at least one other FRNSW appliance (and preferably a pumper with officer and crews. Significantly, this will apply in both FRNSW and RFS Fire Districts.

This policy is a welcome response, however members are to disregard the policy’s closing paragraph exempting tanker staffing. This has not been discussed, let alone agreed and members should ensure that tankers with less than four crew are always responded with another appliance.

AFA charges up 50% (just don’t tell anyone)

Here’s one that didn’t make it into this week’s Commissioner’s Orders (or just about anywhere else for that matter). Last Friday evening, the O’Farrell Government oh so quietly announced the Fire Brigades Amendment (False Alarm Charge) Regulation 2011 via the Liberal Party’s website, increasing the charge payable when a fire brigade responds to a second false alarm and subsequent false alarms within 60 days by a whopping 50%, from $500 to $750.

The Minister explains: “The proposed increase from $500 to $750 does not even come close to full recovery of the cost of a false alarm which is closer to $1800.” How each false alarm is costing $1800 is not explained, but it clearly isn’t due to firefighter wages. The Union has this week written to Minister Gallacher seeking a meeting.

O’Farrell’s “employee related cost savings” horror story

The Premier last Friday contacted the Union via Twitter to accuse the FBEU of misrepresenting his Public Sector Wages Policy. “Good to see the unions not letting the facts get in the way of their campaign” tweeted Barry. Well let’s have a look at the facts then.

The “employee related cost savings” quoted word for word from O’Farrell’s NSW Public Sector Wages Policy include:

  • changes to rostering arrangements to better reflect customer service
  • increases to normal working hours that involve direct customer interaction
  • reduction in the days of absence allowable before a medical certificate is required.

Conversely, the Policy also offers a raft of examples of matters that will not be considered employee related cost savings, including:

  • productivity improvements which do not result in employee related cost savings
  • savings which the agency has already nominated as part of its efficiency dividend or other whole of government savings measures
  • revenue increases
  • enforcement of existing provisions in industrial instruments and policies, which agencies can implement without agreement
  • the avoidance of future costs which have not been formally budgeted
  • whole of government policy or legislative change introduced outside of a bargaining process
  • office relocations.

The Policy helpfully advises that “A decision to discontinue a service should generally not be counted as an employee related cost saving measure except in so far as it will require additional productivity and skills from the remaining employees.” In other words, even the closure of 40 fire stations would not be worth a cracker.

Download the entire horror story if you dare – NSW_Public_Sector_Wages_Policy_2011

LSV Update

In an effort to resolve the operation of the LSV’s, the Union has written to the Department proposing a six month trial of the following:

a)    one Sydney LSV operating on permanent staffing working the 10/14 Roster, with these staff to be either fully operational, or alternate duties, or a combination of both;

b)    the operation of the remaining two Sydney LSVs on weekdays only, by:

i)     permanent firefighters who elect to work either the Special Roster (or such other rosters or hours as may otherwise be agreed between the parties) or, in the event that no permanent member applies to perform these duties within six weeks of the date of advertisement;

ii)    FRNSW Fleet personnel:

provided always that the use of Fleet personnel and/or the hours of operation of these two LSVs will be immediately reviewed in the event that additional alternate duties staff who are able to staff the LSV subsequently become available.

The Union’s agreement to this trial, or indeed any trial, is subject to the Department’s confirmation that:

1)    the final location of all three Sydney LSVs will be subject to further discussion and subsequent agreement between the parties;

2)    the LSV Coordinator position established under the original LSV staffing agreement will continue to be filled by at least one LSV Coordinator per 10/14 shift; and

3)    if, upon the conclusion of the trial, either party is not satisfied with these trial arrangements then the pre-existing LSV staffing agreement will be reinstated immediately.

We anticipate that this matter will be resolved by the end of next week. More to follow.

Reuse turnout gear, refuse duty wear

In SITREP 13/2011 the Union banned the use of second-hand PPE following management’s abuse of the 2011 Award agreement to recycle outer-wear PPE (ie, structure coats and overtrousers) only.

The Union has now been advised that stations are being instructed to send surplus second hand duty wear clothing to their nearest training facility. Apparently the idea is to distribute this clothing to retained firefighters who have requested a new issue. There is no such agreement with the Union for this to take place. No member is to distribute, accept or wear any form of second hand Duty Wear clothing under any circumstance.

Following discussions with the Department, the Union has lifted its ban on the use of recycled outer-wear, but will be monitoring the situation closely. Members who are provided with recycled outer-wear that is either damaged, dirty or not up to scratch please advise the Union by email immediately.

Meal and travel allowance increased from 1 July 2011

Certain allowances in both the Permanent and Retained Awards increased on 1 July 2011.  The accommodation, meal and incidental allowances have been determined at a level consistent with the reasonable allowance amounts for the 2011/2012 income year as determined by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and the Sydney CPI increase for the March quarter.

Attached to this SITREP are the Meal and travel rates from 1 July 2011. Despite having advised the Department on Monday of the new rates, it will not be in a position to pay them until the Commissioner’s Orders are issued, however members should claim the new rates immediately as all allowances are to be back dated to 1 July.

Jim Casey

State Secretary



Recent news: