SITREP 33/2013

August 22, 2013

rally pic for websiteInside this issue:

  • O’ Farrell cuts public sector wages … and loses – update #4
  • Meal and Travel allowances increased from 1 July – update #1
  • IRC decision in Regs dispute – update #1
  • Officer promotions – update #6

O’ Farrell cuts public sector wages …
… and loses – update #4

Good news. We’ve previously reported how the O’Farrell Government had shamefully changed the law to suit itself immediately after losing the IRC case against the public sector unions, including the FBEU, to pay for increases in super payments out of the 2.5% wages cap. (See SITREPs 26/2013, 27/2013, 28/2013 and 32/2013).

Yesterday in NSW Parliament the ALP Opposition, supported by the Greens, the Fishers & Shooters and Christian Democrats, successfully moved to disallow the Industrial Relations (Public Sector Conditions of Employment) Amendment Regulation 2013. This means that the 1 July 0.25% super increase is now payable on top of the 2.5% annual wage increase previously legislated for by the O’Farrell Government. Copies of letters of thanks to these parties are available by clicking here.

The disallowance of the regulation means the O’Farrell Government must now either pay the full 2.5% wage increase and the additional 0.25% super increase to all employees, or appeal the IRC decision to the Supreme Court. Which option do you think they’ll take? More to follow.

Meal and Travel allowances increased from 1 July – update #1

As SITREP 29/2013 reported, meal and travel allowances were increased from 1 July 2013. The Union had calculated the new rates, given them to the Department, and the Department had agreed that our calculations are correct. The current and correct rates are available by clicking here.

The Department has assured the Union that all meal and travel allowance claims will be paid at the correct rates and that all underpayments since 1 July will be rectified by today. Members are advised to check their payslips and to contact the Union if this has not occurred.

IRC decision in Regs dispute – update #1

As SITREP 28/2013 reported, IRC President Justice Boland found against the need for formal inquiries, but also found that the Department’s proposed new disciplinary Regs and procedural guidelines required amendment to ensure a fair and transparent process.

Negotiations yielded good progress and agreement was reached on many of the issues identified in Justice Boland’s decision, including: reasonable time frames for dealing with allegations or complaints; the requirement to inform firefighters of the reason for suspension and an opportunity to respond; the removal of minor disciplinary outcomes from a firefighter’s personal file after two years good behaviour; and delaying the payment of fines until any appeal against their imposition has been determined. The Union has maintained the right to take any disciplinary or work-related performance matter to the IRC at any stage of proceedings.

The major point of disagreement was the Union’s insistence that any future changes to the Regs and guidelines should not occur without proper consultation with the Union, and referral to the IRC under the organisational change provisions of our Awards (Clause 36 of the Permanent Award and Clause 27 of the Retained Award). The Department remains vehemently opposed to this final matter, so it will be resolved by Justice Boland shortly.

Officer promotions – update #6

The Inspectors’ Pre-Entry Test dispute returned to the IRC this week, on Monday and again today, resulting in agreement for the 2013 Pre-Entry Test to go ahead, but on a trial basis only.

Commissioner’s Orders 2013/19 will confirm that 2013/15 has been rescinded, with the deadline for submission of Portfolios now set at 1700 hours on Friday 6 September. Any member who has already submitted their Portfolio may withdraw, amend and re-submit it. We suggest they do so, and this is why.

Commissioner’s Orders 2013/15 required applicants to nominate a preference for a Country Inspector position (of which there were 5) and/or a Sydney Inspector position (of which there were another 5). The Department had intended that there would not be 10 positions available, but rather 5 of each, so there were really only 10 positions available if you were prepared to take up any of those Country positions. If, however, you were not interested in a Country position then there were really only 5 positions on offer.

The system agreed today, and to be published in 2013/19, changes this in a number of ways. Firstly, 4 of the 5 Country positions will now be filled in accordance with In Orders 2006/2’s Guidelines for the allocation of unfilled Country Station Officer and Inspector positions, so the only Country Inspector vacancy will be the 2nd position at Leeton. Secondly, and as a result, there will now be 14 rather than 10 positions on the 2013 IPP. Thirdly, and significantly, there will no longer be any need to nominate a preference for a Country or Sydney position. The Leeton position will be offered to each of the 10 successful Pre-Entry Test candidates. If none of those 10 accept then they will retain their position on the IPP and the Leeton vacancy will be offered to remaining Pre-Entry Test candidates by order of merit (ie, to the 11th candidate, and then the 12th, and so on), with the first candidate to accept the Leeton position also being placed on the 2013 IPP (ie, an extra position). For the full procedure see In Orders 2006/2.

There will now be a confidential (and non-identifiable) postal survey of all candidates who submitted a Portfolio on the trial Pre-Entry Test format, with the results to be shared with the Union. The Union also secured the Department’s agreement that members required to undertake testing, interviews or feedback while off-duty will be entitled to a minimum of four hours’ overtime and to Clause 26 travel entitlements.

It was further agreed this week that if this trial Test does not result in agreed Award amendments then the old IPP Pre-Entry Test will return until the parties do agree, or the IRC orders otherwise. That this new format Pre-Entry Test is a one-off trial, and not a permanent change, was a critical point for the Union because this has preserved our bargaining position on merit selection processes for both the IPP and SOPP heading into next year’s Permanent Award negotiations.

We regret that some members have been confused or inconvenienced by what has turned out to be a 5 week delay in the 2013 IPP timetable, but we do not apologise for what is a clearly better outcome. The fault lies with the Department for attempting to ram through complex changes with little or no warning to the membership, and little or no respect for our Award provisions regarding promotion and consultation.

Jim Casey
State Secretary



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