November 30, 2012
- Budget Cuts, TOLing, and the FBEU Response
- Temporary station closures and appliances offline (TOLing):
- Advice and instructions for permanent members
- IRC orders new AMP for permanent members
Budget Cuts, TOLing, and the FBEU Response
Another week of the brave new world of station closures, and another week where the Government has come up lucky when rolling the dice on community safety. Sadly this will not last forever – at some point, somewhere, an avoidable tragedy will occur near a closed fire station.
As a part of the FBEU campaign against the budget cuts, and their resultant station closures, the Union’s officials have been making contact with local and state government as well as local media. As of today a new section on the Union’s website has gone live (www.fbeu.net/cutscostlives/). Here members will find a pro forma to report stations closures, move ups, and details of outduties etc worked by TOLed firefighters. I encourage all members to use these forms – the more data the Union has to hand the more effective our media and political work will be.
FRNSW management are approaching the budget cuts not as a problem but as an opportunity in that the rolling out of station closures has been accompanied by a variety of attempts to undermine Award entitlements. This is behind their refusal to issue a Commissioner’s Order explaining to members how and when TOLing is to occur. In the absence of the Department doing the right thing the Union is issuing the advice and instructions below.
Temporary station closures and appliances offline (TOLing):
Advice and instructions for permanent members
The Union’s officials have continued to monitor the temporary closure of permanent stations and appliances over the past fortnight, resulting in the State Committee yesterday resolving to issue a 4 page, 12 point “Advice and instructions for permanent members” document.
A full copy of the Union “Advice and instructions” can be found here, but in summary:
- Officers cannot act-down, but may be directed to staff heavy hazmat and rescue appliances (see points 1, 2 and 3).
- Officers cannot be directed to perform outduties, but may agree to do so (points 4 and 5).
- The minimum rank required to act as OIC at a retained station is Senior Firefighter (point 6).
- There is no ban or restriction on “leap-frogging” of relievers and/or outduties (point 7).
- Leading Firefighters cannot act-up to Station Officer rank unless they have successfully completed the SOPP (point 8).
- Fully staffed appliances are not to be taken off line (point 9).
- Fully staffed appliances are not be taken off line to staff TOLed appliances, which are not to be “cross-crewed” (point 10).
- While there is no limit on the number of times an appliance may be TOLed or directed to stand by for a TOLed appliance elsewhere, outduty limits and other Award provisions may operate to prevent either happening (points 11 and 12).
- Members who stand by for a TOLed appliance elsewhere will have performed an outduty if that stand by duty exceeds four hours’ duration and/or have not returned to their own station by 0800 or 1800 hrs (point 12).
IRC orders new AMP for permanent members
Further to SITREPs 37/2012 and 44/2012 which reported on the Department’s attempt to completely overhaul the AMP, the Union’s attempt to then block much of that change and the subsequent dispute proceedings before the IRC, the matter was concluded on Tuesday this week with Justice Staff issuing Orders for a revised AMP. The Department followed suit with the publication of Commissioner’s Orders 2012/26 which reproduced, word for word, the AMP as ordered by the Judge.
The Union had opposed the wholesale changes initially proposed by the Department, partly due to our view that management had failed to use the current AMP but largely because those most of those changes were simply out of control. It follows that while the Union’s officials are far from happy with every aspect of the new AMP, we also know that it’s a massive improvement on what the Department originally set out to achieve and, in some instances, a better arrangement than the old AMP.
Most of the AMP was eventually settled and agreed upon in conciliation, with some positive outcomes for firefighters including a trial of the ability to carry over unused NMCs. However the Union remained opposed to the most controversial aspect – the Department’s AMP Roster – and this was therefore determined by the Judge. Even this was not one-way traffic, with Justice Staff eventually siding with the Department to include the AMP Roster but also acknowledging some of the Union’s concerns and objections. To quote (in part) from the Judge’s Statement and Order:
“In my view and I find, the proposed AMP Roster to be a fair and appropriate inclusion as one of the available sanctions in respect of any Firefighter who ultimately, is found to have breached the Policy. In recognition of some of the Union’s contentions, I find on balance, that the AMP Roster should involve 14 days notice, be limited to 21 days shifts (5 weeks) and save for out-duties and relieving, be worked at the Firefighter’s current station. I further find that in approving the Roster, it should only apply pursuant to the AMP Policy as a sanction and should not otherwise be available.”
A more detailed assessment and explanation of the changes to, and operation of, the new AMP will follow in next week’s SITREP 47/2012. In the interim, a full copy of the new AMP, as produced in Commissioner’s Orders 2012/26, can be downloaded here.