Further to our last update in SITREP 44/2013, the Union this week handed the Department a revised Retained Award proposal including two important new concepts – members would be given a choice to “opt in” to the new system, and kilometre payments were removed altogether from the availability allowance. On Wednesday the parties then appeared for conciliation before the IRC’s Vice President, Justice Walton.
The Department’s response was flat opposition to most of the Union’s proposal, particularly the “opt in” concept, and that the existing kilometre payments not be converted to an availability payment. The Department also rejected our proposed measures for the management of firefighters who declared availability and subsequently failed to respond as being “too weak”.
It got worse. Management proposed that every firefighter should be required to declare and guarantee a minimum number hours of availability each week, and that any member responding later than 15 minutes to a fire call not be paid at all. As it stands the Department is offering big sticks and no carrots.
The only thing we did agree upon was the Union’s proposal for an automated system to allow all Brigade members to register and confirm their availability remotely, perhaps via their mobile phone. It is intended that this system would not only confirm availability, but also allocate any availability priority (and therefore payments) automatically. This would ease the burden on Captains and D/Captains and, provided the rules are set fairly, reduce disputes over allocation of availability periods and payments.
Having heard plenty of what the employer did not like about our proposals, the Judge concluded the day’s proceedings by directing the Department to prepare and serve a counter-proposal of its own within 14 days. It will make interesting reading. Full details will be in SITREP 47.
Problems taking Long Service Leave – update
The Department and the Union met in a compulsory conference before Commissioner Newall yesterday, following the Union’s lodging of a dispute with the IRC about the unsatisfactory way the Department is now managing Long Service Leave (LSL). When pressed by the Commissioner, management conceded that the expense of relief requirements should not stop a member taking LSL. The Commissioner recommended that the Department respond to the Union’s letter of 12 September in the next week, that the parties then meet to discuss further in the week following, and that we report back to him on 12 December. More to follow, and soon.
Retained strike teams and Clause 29 – update #3
On Tuesday management’s Dickensian view of Clause 29 entitlements were on display before Justice Staff when this matter returned to the IRC. It seems management now think that “appropriate accommodation” translates as “we gave you a blanket and a pillow – don’t ask for more”. Justice Staff directed the Department to provide the Union with the extent of claims in dispute, and that the parties subsequently confer. The matter returns to the IRC on Thursday 28 November.