May 15, 2012

Petty Cash, Meal and Refreshment Allowance Dispute 

As reported in SITREP 19/2012, the Department and the Union re-appeared before Justice Haylen of the IRC this afternoon.

The Judge was, perhaps not surprisingly, critical of both parties – the Department for its stance generally and the Commissioner’s latest letter to the Union in particular, and the Union for our refusal to abide by his recommendation to lift all bans. On that point members will be interested to learn that the Department today claimed that the Union’s bans had so far cost management $85,000 – an unnecessary expense easily avoided by simply respecting our Awards.

Justice Haylen again sought an undertaking that the Union would remove all bans and instead observe the correct procedure, which is to prosecute the Department for each breach of either Award. That matter is already listed for mention in the Industrial Court on 24 May.

Every instance that a member is not paid a meal or refreshment allowance from petty cash is an Award breach, each of which attracts a potential fine against the Department of up to $10,000. We are now relying on members to notify the Union office by fax or email of each and every breach to ensure that the Department suffers the maximum possible fine.

In order to:
1)         avoid a Direction and/or Order from the IRC to lift our bans; and
2)         refocus the IRC’s attention on the Department’s Award breaches rather than our bans; and
3)         deny the Department the defence that it should not be fined because the Union had bans in place;
members are hereby instructed that the bans imposed in the Code Red notice issued on Friday, 4 May are to be lifted at 1800 hours today.

The instruction to members in SITREP 12/2012 that members should continue to claim and be paid all meal and refreshment allowances out of petty cash on the day the entitlement arises remains.

Members should also note Commissioner Mullins’ advice that:

a)        the Department is still paying overtime meal allowances from petty cash; and
b)        petty cash floats at fire stations are being maintained at adequate levels to ensure sufficient petty cash is available to make such payments.

Members should notify the Union immediately at if and when either is not the case.


Jim Casey
State Secretary



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