April 5, 2012
- 2012 Union elections – vote NOW, ballot closes soon
- Easter Sunday Public Holiday and consolidated leave – update
- Retained summit discussion paper
- ESS Claims – the Department’s bad joke – update
- Meal and Refreshment Allowances – update
- Arrangements for PPC fitting
- Dad and Partner Leave
2012 Union elections – vote NOW, ballot closes soon
Members should have by now received their voting material from the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) which is conducting 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)
Voting closes at 5pm next Thursday 12 April. If you have not already completed your ballot paper and posted it to the NSWEC, do so as a matter of urgency. Ballots received after the close of the election will not be counted, and your vote will be wasted.
Easter Sunday Public Holiday and consolidated leave – update
Further to SITREPs 16, 18, 21, 28, 33 and 48/2011, the Union’s application to the IRC seeking Orders to either grant consolidated leave to all permanent members who worked on Easter Sunday as per the Permanent Award subclause 6.4, or in the alternative, increase all permanent wage rates to reflect same, has yet to be decided. Justice Haylen has listed the matter for mention (along with a number of other disputes) on Tuesday 10 April. We don’t expect a decision then, but we’ll let you know what happens. Further, members are advised that whilst Friday 6 April, Saturday 7 April and Monday 9 April are public holidays, they are not ‘additional’ public holidays and so do not attract any consolidated leave.
On the subject of public holidays, Ross Gittins examined the employer-inspired demise of public holidays and weekends in an excellent article in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald. Of course firefighters have always worked on these days and we receive a loading for doing so, but the loss of penalties for working on these days in other industries, and our own current struggle for just compensation for working on the newly declared Easter Sunday public holiday is symptomatic of the never-ending tension between the employer (who wants you to do more for less), and the worker (who wants a modicum of dignity and control at work). There’s a link to the article on the web version of this SITREP.
Retained summit discussion paper
Last November saw over 100 retained and permanent firefighters from around the state attended the Department’s retained summit, with the stated aim of improving the retained system. With the release of the retained summit discussion paper today after some five months the Union notes the report reiterates what we have been saying are the problems with the retained system for some time. While some of the industrial implications in the report are concerning – and not necessarily what was put forward by those of us who attended the conference – it is a welcome change that there has been at least some consideration of the retained system.
The Union welcomes feedback from all members on the report – email us at email@example.com
ESS Claims – the Department’s bad joke update
The Department this week denied that there are any problems with the functioning of its new T&E area of the ESS portal on SAP. Apparently most of you are very happy with it, and the rest of us are just a little slow. There was no comment on reports that its own experts on its own helpline have admitted it doesn’t work.
Members are asked to immediately report to the Union any difficulties they experience trying to make claims on the ESS by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will not pass any reports on to the Department in a way that identifies the member(s) concerned, but discuss them with the member(s) concerned first.
The Union will report this issue to the Industrial Relations Commission next week as part of our dispute over petty cash and meal and refreshment allowances.
In the meantime, the Union instruction given in last week’s SITREP continues until notified otherwise:
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.
Meal and Refreshment Allowances Update
The Union instruction given in SITREP 12/2012, that all meal and refreshment allowances are to continue to be paid out of petty cash, also continues.
I am still awaiting the advice the Department has said it was seeking (and would provide by this week) to support its argument that a Treasury Direction against the use of petty cash overrides the clauses in the Awards that provide for it.
Some Station Officers have sought further advice from the Union about how they are to account for the tax withheld on incident (not overtime) meal and refreshment allowances paid. To assist, here are two petty cash forms, which are used in many stations for refreshment allowances and meal allowances. These forms should be copied, relevant details completed when payments are made, and attached to the station petty cash book.
In the meantime, the Union has started to receive reports that petty cash in stations is beginning to run out as the Department fails to reimburse the money spent, effectively starving members of their money.
The Union will address this to the Judge at the Industrial Relations Commission when we report back to him on Tuesday.
Arrangements for PPC fitting
The Union has received inquiries from members in relation to payment for firefighters being fitted for the new personal protective clothing. Permanent members should be measured whilst on shift. Retained members should be paid a minimum of one hours’ pay under authorised duties plus return kilometres in accordance with the Retained Award. All authorised duties used for measuring new PPC will be additional to the usual monthly quota. If for any reason it is not possible for a retained to be measured at his/her station, then alternate arrangements may be made through the Zone office.
Dad and Partner Leave
On 22 March 2012 amendments to the Paid Parental Leave Legislation were introduced to Parliament by the Federal Labor Government to provide for paid Dad and Partner Leave for new parents. Pending the passage of the legislation this new entitlement will be implemented on 1 January 2013.
The scheme provides Dads/partners of mothers of new babies with two weeks paid leave. This payment will be funded by the Federal Government and paid at the minimum wage ($590 per week).
The Union welcomes this new entitlement for working families. Paid Dad and Partner Leave will provide additional financial assistance to families as well as allowing both parents some time with their newborn child.
The scheme will operate similarly to the current Paid Parental Leave scheme, and will be in addition to the one weeks’ paid paternity leave provided by our Awards.
Key points include:
- Full time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract and self-employed workers may be eligible;
- Eligibility will be determined by the Paid Parental Leave work test;
- The scheme will also apply to adopting parents and same-sex couples;
- Dads and partners must have an income of $150 000 pa or less;
- The payment cannot be transferred or cashed out;
- Dads and partners may still be eligible if their partners were not eligible for Paid Parental Leave.
I will keep you updated on the passage and implementation of this important new legislation.