Code Red: Update on current IRC dispute

November 6, 2019

Update on current IRC dispute

The Union went before the IRC today over the directive that was issued yesterday by FRNSW and the Code Red we issued last night.

It has come to our attention that there are some minor errors in the Code Red. A corrected version is attached.

The IRC is going to determine a number of different components to this dispute. These proceedings will become complex and multifaceted but will have broad implications for our work, including about minimum crewing and the process for TOLing stations and appliances.

Bans and the Code Red – hearing on Saturday 9 November 2019

FRNSW has asked for a hearing about the Code Red and will ask the IRC to rule against any bans on an urgent basis. This hearing is taking place on Saturday 9 November 2019.

A determination on what is the Status Quo regarding the minimum crewing and what TOLing involves – hearing on 13 December 2019

It became clear today that we have a different view to FRNSW about what minimum crewing entails and what TOLing involves. The Commissioner has set down a hearing date to determine the status quo on 13 December 2019.

A determination whether the IRC can make orders about minimum crewing – hearing 13 December 2019

FRNSW has objected to whether or not the IRC can make orders about this dispute at all. They argue that all staffing issues sit outside the Award and cannot be dealt with by the IRC. This is a jurisdictional issue. The jurisdictional objection will also be heard on 13 December 2019.

Hearing about 19/20 and rescinding 08/22 and minimum crewing – hearing date yet to be determined

The substantive dispute will only be heard after the other components of the dispute have been dealt with. Unfortunately, only 2020 hearing dates are available for the substantive dispute to be heard.

AMENDED CODE RED FRNSW ignores IRC agreement

Members would be aware that FRNSW have refused to put in writing what a “Risk based” approach means or what the actions of management will be if the 2019/20 In-Order is enacted. To date, all that we have received is a video from Acting Commissioner Fewtrell committing to not attacking safe and effective minimum crewing or the tolling of permanent fire stations. It is no doubt not a shock to members that FRNSW today has reneged on Acting Commissioner Fewtrell’s video as well as ignoring an agreed position made in the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) this week on the new In-Order 2019/20. The parties were to continue discussions whilst 2008/22 provisions remain in place except for the 60 kms provision.

The position agreed between the parties on 4 November was as follows:

Until the report back the status quo remains:

  1. In-Order 19/20 will not be used to drive TOLing of permanentstations for budgetary purposes; and
  2. In-Order 19/20 has no implications for current safe and effective minimum crewing levels.

Fast forward only 1 day and a directive was put out to middle management which is to implement the following as of 6 am 6 November (tomorrow):

  • A “risk based” approach will be used to manage the network of coverage across the Zone. This is dynamic.
  • Move ups will be allowed. i.e. if Richmond is short a Permanent station can move up to cover the period of shortage.
  • Using stations with full availability to cover other stations. For example, 495 Wentworth Falls if Retained short can be covered by 343 and 361, depending on call type.
  • A tanker can respond with two firefighters.
  • Or as another example, Lithgow or Lithgow west can combine to maintain a minimum of 6 available staff to cover that Fire District (For example, SO and 1 at 363 and 4 at 364)
  • The formerly removed 60 km recall rule for Permanent FF’s remains removed.
  • All staff shortages must still be reported as previously to the DCBM.
  • Permanent stations will still maintain agreed rostering and staff levels.

It appears that FRNSW has no respect for the IRC or the agreements it makes with us. We have asked for an urgent relisting with the IRC this evening but in the interim:

Accordingly, all members are hereby instructed to maintain the previouslyIRC agreed position (status quo), which is 2008/22 with the amendment that the 60km rule for the filling of retained shortages does not apply and Duty Commanders can fill those shortages through the most financially and operationally viable method. This means using permanent and/or retained staff, not one or the other. Any member asked to operate outside of this is to contact the Union Office or their State Committee official immediately.

In Unity,

Leighton Drury

State Secretary



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