April 19, 2013
Inside this issue:
- MFR – the trial that isn’t
- Easter Sunday consolidated leave delayed?
- “No expectation of acknowledgement or additional reward”
- Workers Comp for retained members
- Retained award negotiations update
- May Day March 2013 – Sunday 5 May
MFR – the trial that isn’t
Members in Metro East 2 have contacted the Union, understandably concerned by a fax circulating in their zone announcing a series of station forums to be attended by Commissioner Mullins to discuss the issue of Medical First Responder. That in itself is not noteworthy. Indeed, it’s a refreshing change for the Department to ask our opinions on this issue. What was surprising was the attached memo announcing that ME2 will soon have six stations involved in a MFR Trial.
This is not the case. There has been no MFR proposal put to the Union, and Commissioner Mullins informed me only this week that we are unlikely to see such a proposal this year.
If the Commissioner wants to talk to stations about his hopes and dreams for first responder then we’re not going to stop him. Indeed, we encourage all members who are present to take the opportunity to ask Mr Mullins the hard questions. But there is no agreement for any trial, and nor will there be unless a General Meeting of members decides otherwise.
Easter Sunday consolidated leave delayed?
The Union office has received many complaints about the Department’s refusal to credit members with consolidated leave for working on Easter Sunday (31 March) following the Union’s victory in this long-running dispute last year – see SITREP 25/2012.
In at least one instance, a member was advised by the Department there was no entitlement to consolidated leave as it wasn’t an additional public holiday. Of course, whoever gave that advice was wrong. In another case, the Department’s aptly-named (?) Help Desk had no idea of what our member was inquiring about when he rang to ask where his additional consolidated leave was.
Commissioner Mullins has personally assured me that this entitlement is not in dispute. If you’re entitled to this extra leave but haven’t yet been credited with it then contact the Union office. Or if you don’t want the leave, the Department’s Help Desk.
“No expectation of acknowledgement or additional reward”
As promised in last week’s SITREP, our ongoing review of a particular aspect of the “Future Outlook” document continues. This week it’s “Courage and Selflessness”.
Much is made in the Future Outlook document of the “values” of FRNSW. Two of those values are apparently “Courage and Selflessness”. Members will be pleased to know that this means we should always “put the needs of the community and FRNSW before our own”. If you are unsure what that means it is spelt out for you – we are expected to work “With no expectation of acknowledgement or additional reward”.
This is a flowery way of expressing the O’Farrell Government’s public sector wages policy. You don’t get pay rises for being more productive, or working harder. That’s just doing as you are told (now also apparently known as “courage and selflessness”).
Courage and selflessness are core values for our job. Every day we exhibit these qualities in sometimes small, and sometimes big, ways. But that selflessness should never extend to surrendering our dignity as workers or accepting unfair remuneration for the important work we do.
Workers Comp for retained members
Retained members are reminded that if they suffer a compensable injury in the course of their duties with Fire and Rescue NSW, a supplementary benefit is payable to cover earnings lost from their primary employment.
This means that an injured retained firefighter is entitled to receive a benefit made up of the following components:
a. ordinary weekly earnings from primary employment, plus permanent allowances;
b. the continued payment of the retainer; and
c. a weekly amount for retained firefighting duties based on the member’s average weekly earnings (excluding retainer) over a twelve month period immediately preceding the injury.
Supplementary benefits will only be paid where it is established that the member has suffered a loss of income as a result of the incapacity for work, and will be limited by a ceiling which will be varied form time to time, in keeping with movements in average weekly earnings as determined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In determining ordinary weekly earnings, regard will be had to wage components paid on a permanent basis. Payments relating to shift work, overtime, travelling expenses and payments of a like nature will generally not be compensated. The payment of supplementary benefits are limited to a period of 12 months.
Again, these benefits only remain payable because the Union took strike action on 21 June last year, forcing an exemption from the O’Farrell Government’s draconian changes to workers compensation laws – see The bullet we just dodged published on 29 June 2012 on the Union’s website. Members requiring further information should contact the Union office.
Retained award negotiations update
With the Union’s application for a new Retained Award returning to the IRC this coming Monday, the update promised in SITREP 15 has been held over until next week. More to follow in SITREP 17.
May Day March 2013 – Sunday 5 May
The 2013 Sydney May Day march will be held on Sunday 5 May with members meeting at Parliament House, Macquarie Street at 1130 hours.
Following the march, the Union will be putting on food and beverages for members and their families. It would be helpful for catering purposes if members who intend coming along could let Alison or Julie know with a simple phone call or email (email@example.com).