NSW Firefighter SITREP @FBEU | #Ausunions


Meal and Refreshment Allowances – Union to prosecute for award breaches

The Union instruction given in SITREP 12/2012 that all meal and refreshment allowances are to continue to be paid out of petty cash remains in force. Indeed, the IRC’s Justice Haylen on Tuesday expressly refused a Department request to order that it be withdrawn.

So how did management respond to that set back? By instructing Area Commanders to issue an even more provocative memo to stations on 11 April which again directly contravened the Awards.

Justice Haylen was highly critical of the Department’s latest antics, leading him to this morning make a “strong recommendation” that the Department suspend its 11 April memo and hold discussions with the Union. The Department’s HR section this afternoon wrote to all Area Commanders advising “If you have recently issued a written communication regarding claims for refreshment and meal allowances, you are encouraged to consider withdrawing that communication, consistent with the Recommendation of the IRC” – which might be fair enough if not for the fact that HR wrote the offending memo for them to issue in the first place.

Our advice to all members is to ignore the memo and to our Area Commander members, to ignore the advice from HR and leave it to them to clean up their own mistakes.

Any order from the Commissioner that is contrary to our Awards is an unlawful order, and the Union is now prosecuting the Department for breaches of the meal and/or refreshment allowances at subclauses 10.3.1 and 10.4.1 of the Permanent Award, and subclause 8.3.1 of the Retained Award.

In the meantime, members are advised that Station Commanders are not required to keep safe any monies withheld as tax when making incident allowance payments. It is money they can continue to use as petty cash. Station Commanders have fulfilled their obligations if they simply keep a record, using the proforma attached to last weeks SITREP, of the totals of tax withheld. The Department will then forward all tax withheld to the ATO by electronic means, utilising their normal PAYG processes, leaving the petty cash remaining at stations available to pay further claims.

Incident Management Teams

The Union has been advised that some members below the rank of Superintendent have been placed on call, outside of their rostered hours of work, as an Incident Management Team (IMT) member. Members below the rank of Superintendent are hereby instructed that they are not to be considered part of an IMT, or placed on call for an IMT, unless they are either:

a) placed on call during their rostered hours of work, or

b) being paid overtime for any and all such time.

Qualification allowances – is the sky really falling?

The rumour mill went into overtime this last week, ably assisted by yet another gutless, anonymous fax to stations from the same disgruntled former official this time claiming that qualification allowances (eg, rescue, hazmat, aerials and comms) are about to be sold off, or worse.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The State Committee has approved the exploration of a possible consolidation of allowances and/or extending some or all of these allowances to members currently not receiving an allowance via, for example, an expansion of FRNSW rescue stations. But there is no formal proposal and before there can be, it will first have to be approved by the State Committee and then voted on by all members at a General Meeting.

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About Darin Sullivan (1969 Articles)
Former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (2009-2018) and a professional firefighter with more than 25 years’ experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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