Last week’s Commissioner’s Corner #628 referred to an intranet story titled “SMART rostering commences for Retained Firefighters in January” which advised (amongst other things) that “All firefighters should update their availability for December and the New Year period in the test site”.
Members are not required or expected to do this and should refuse any direction to do so.
The Union is disappointed by this development, not least because we advised the Department of our opposition to the SMART acronym (System to Manage Availability Rostering and Timesheets) many weeks ago owing to its use of the word “rostering”. The new system is not a rostering system.
The 2014 Retained Award reforms that gave rise to the new system allow for rostering of members in two circumstances only, being:
1) if you don’t declare your compulsory availability for the coming week by 1800hrs on Wednesday (subclause 28.6.3); or
2) if too many members declare compulsory availability for the same period (subclause 28.6.4).
In either case the Duty Commander may (not must) then allocate compulsory availability hours for the member(s) concerned in consultation with the Captain and member(s).
These are the only two instances when compulsory availability may be rostered. Ordinary availability may never be rostered. Because most members remain on Base retainers, the Award requires only 24 hours of compulsory availability each week so the remaining 144 hours of the week are entirely up to you to confirm your availability (or not) for all, some or none of those 144 hours. While the system has been set up with availability as a default (each member is shown as available unless you declare you are unavailable), this does not mean guaranteed availability, or that you are required to attend. There is no penalty for a member who is shown as available but does not attend. Your only obligation is to maintain the Award’s required attendance percentages – 33% of all calls except during times of compulsory availability, when it is 80% (but still not 100%) of all calls. More information can be found on the Union’s website in the “Availability, attendance and the new 2014 Retained Award” notice issued on 30 May 2014.
For reasons known only to the Department, management is currently ignoring the Award requirement for members to declare their 24 hours of compulsory availability (their first version of the Gartan system didn’t even allow members to enter it). This is perhaps an attempt to keep retained members in the dark about the difference between compulsory and ordinary availability, and of the higher retainer payments now possible under our 2014 Award reforms. We’ll be following this up in 2016 but in the meantime, members should understand that the new system does not allow management to roster your availability. There is no Union ban on members using or relying on the system for more than the 24 compulsory hours per week – it was always intended as a tool to help and members are welcome to do so cooperatively – but the suggestion that you are now required to declare your availability for the full week and/or meet all of the availability shown by the system is simply wrong.
For a printable copy of this SITREP, please click here.