March 30, 2012
Inside this issue:
- 2012 Union elections
- Silence is golden
- Nowra to go 10/14
- May Day 2012
- ESS Claims – the Department’s bad joke
- Meal and Refreshment Allowances Update
2012 Union elections
As reported in SITREP 11/2012 and 12/2012, the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) will now conduct a postal ballot of all financial members of the Union for the three remaining contested State Committee of Management positions, as follows:
SCOM Office Candidates
Senior Vice President John Henry (77 C), Travis Broadhurst (36 C)
Junior Vice President Jason Morgan (374 S/R), Matthew Murray (10 A)
Retained Sub-Branch Phillip Gardner (72), Marina Findeis (77)
The NSWEC posted your voting material on Thursday 29 March. All members are urged to vote in this election, and to make sure you post or deliver your completed ballot so that it reaches the NSWEC by 5pm on Thursday 12 April 2012. Ballots received after this time will not be counted.
Silence is golden
When dealing with disciplinary matters, or any investigations into allegations, regardless of what stage, members are reminded that they should not answer questions, write reports or sign statements until after they have contacted the Union. This applies in all circumstances – no matter how much management demands or reassures members that “this is not a disciplinary matter”, members should not do anything until they contact the Union. For example, although you may be asked to write a report to your Inspector, this report can – and often does – end up in the hands of Workplace Standards. Disciplinary action often ensues. As a protection to all, members are encouraged to contact the Union first.
Nowra to go 10/14
SITREP 35/2011 reported that last year’s State Budget had seen funds allocated for Bathurst and Nowra Fire Stations to be upgraded to 10/14 staffing following campaigns by the Union and in particular the Country Sub-Branch. Whilst Bathurst saw 10/14 staffing commence on 2 December 2011, Nowra will go 10/14 in June. These staffing enhancements were the direct result of hard work by comrades on the ground in Bathurst and Nowra, the CSB, and the Union as a whole.
May Day 2012
The 2012 Sydney May Day march will be held on Sunday 6 May with members meeting at Hyde Park North at 1200 hours. Following the march, the Union will be putting on food and beverages for members and their families. While not necessary, it would be helpful for catering purposes if members who intend attending could let Alison or Julie know with a simple email (email@example.com).
ESS Claims – the Department’s bad joke
Members are reporting to the Union problems with the new Travel & Expense (T&E) area of the Employee Self Service (ESS) portal on SAP.
To begin with, members have received no training in how to use this new way of making claims, and in any case much of the time it just does not work. If you’re trying to make an excess travel claim, it does not work. If you’re working at a Cost Centre other than the one to which you’re normally attached, it does not work.
The Department’s own IT section have admitted as much, and advise there is no quick fix on the horizon. However this doesn’t stop the Department returning all paperwork to those who have sensibly taken the initiative to process claims the old way so that there is a chance that firefighters will actually get the money that is rightfully theirs under our Awards. The Department then tells them to use ESS … which does not work. We all know the Department would love to stop allowance and travel expense claims, but this is ridiculous.
In the words of one member it is bulls**t, totally unacceptable, and I agree. Accordingly, and further to the instruction given by the Union in SITREP 11/2012, I issue the following instruction:
Any member who experiences difficulty in making a claim utilising the T&E area of the ESS portal on SAP is to immediately revert to claiming by way of previous practice, ie. miscellaneous voucher or petty cash. This instruction shall remain in place until notified otherwise by the State Secretary.
This may not of course stop vouchers from being returned, and so for that reason the Union is addressing the issue to the Department as a matter of urgency. If no satisfaction is quickly achieved, the Union will take further action.
Of course, as detailed in last week’s SITREP, all meal and refreshment allowances are to continue to be paid out of petty cash.
Meal and Refreshment Allowances Update
Some Station Officers have sought advice about what they are to do with the tax withheld in petty cash, after payments have been made. The Union’s advice is that the cash withheld is to simply remain there as part of the Station’s petty cash float. It is the Department’s responsibility to ensure that the ATO receives the tax.
There has been no further communication between the Union and the Department on the matter. I am still awaiting the advice the Department has said it is seeking to support its argument that a Treasury Direction against the use of petty cash overrides the clauses in the Awards, which provide for payment of meal and refreshment allowances out of petty cash. The matter returns to the IRC on 10 April.