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FBEU SITREP 2/2013 “Pants on Fire”

January 15, 2013

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  •      Pants on fire
  •      Flexible Leave and Annual Leave Conversion trials under review
  •      New “Dad and Partner Pay” (DAPP)

 

 

Pants on fire

Some constant themes have emerged from the O’Farrell Government and its apologists in FRNSW senior management in their defence of unprecedented station closures (TOLing).

One is the “business as usual” invention, with Commissioner Mullins repeatedly claiming that there is nothing new about closing fire stations and cutting the number of available appliances and on-shift firefighters. “It has been standard practice for over 100 years” says Mr Mullins. No Commissioner, it hasn’t, and every single firefighter in the job knows it.

Government MPs have since been pushing the 100 year angle in their replies to worried constituents, but few are buying. The Labor MP for Maroubra, Michael Daley, made his position clear last week with this response to a FRNSW tweet about a job in his frequently TOLed electorate:

9 Jan Fire & Rescue NSW ‏@FireRescueNSW #FRNSW on scene at a unit #fire, Meeks St, #Kingsford. 24 ppl evac’d, no injuries. F/fighters kept fire to one room – unit being vented.

9 Jan Michael Daley ‏@michaeldaleyMP @FireRescueNSW well done. But how many stations closed tonight in our local area. Daily occurrence now and disaster waiting to happen

Another invention of Commissioner Mullins is the assertion that we agreed to TOLing in 2008 in return for a wage rise. SITREP 45/2012 set the record straight on this issue (“The IRC ruled against the Union on this question, but at no time did we concede the point”) however the failure of Mr Mullins, an avid reader of SITREP, to admit he was wrong and retract those comments has now seen the Premier peddling this particular fiction to the public via Twitter:

5 Jan Barry O’Farrell ‏@barryofarrell  the question remains why @nswfbeu agreed to the practice in 2008 (when ALP was in office) but now objects #cheappolitics

5 Jan darinsullivan.net ‏@darinsullivan @barryofarrell Since when was an IRC special wage case,handed down by full bench, an agreement @FBEU? You’ve been misled with #wrongpolitics

5 Jan 
Barry O’Farrell ‏@barryofarrell 
question remains unanswered – source is the Fire & Rescue Commissioner – http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/news.php?news=2176 …

5 Jan darinsullivan.net ‏@darinsullivan @barryofarrell -I’ve answered your question sir, your info from the #FRNSW Commissioner is wrong. @FBEU @NSWFBEU did NOT agree to closures

We invite Commissioner Mullins to retract those comments and correct the Premier before he misleads Parliament.

And almost on cue, lest the Minister feel left out, came this corker in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph:

A spokesman for Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher said: “There has not been $70 million in cuts to the FRNSW budget. In fact, the FRNSW budget grew by $9 million last year.”

Perhaps someone should tell Commissioner Mullins, who back on 15 June 2012 wrote to the Union confirming “that FRNSW must work within its allocated budget, which over a four year period will be progressively reduced by a total of about $70 million.”

Flexible Leave and Annual Leave Conversion trials under review

In Orders 2006/27 confirmed our agreement to trial, firstly, an arrangement whereby permanent members could elect to convert some of their annual leave to consolidated leave and secondly, non-rostered and flexible annual leave for Operational Support members. These arrangements, which operate outside of the Award only by mutual consent, were until recently supported by both parties. Not any more.

The Department last month varied and published new Annual Leave Conversion arrangements without our consent, and for the first time closed sections such as Education & Training over the Christmas/New Year period and directed many Op Support members to take forced Annual Leave. Neither of these developments were contemplated by the Union in 2006 and neither is considered acceptable now.

The Union’s State Committee of Management will now decide whether either or both trials should be terminated, and the Award enforced, when it meets on 1 February. Interested members are encouraged to contact your elected officials to convey your thoughts on these issues prior to this meeting.

New “Dad and Partner Pay” (DAPP)

SITREP 14/2012 reported on the Gillard Government’s amendments to the Paid Parental Leave legislation to provide for paid Dad and Partner Pay (DAPP) for up to two weeks. These new payments, which are made by the Commonwealth Government, not FRNSW, took effect on 1 January 2013 and are set at the federal minimum wage (currently $606.40 per week).

This payment is in addition to members’ existing Award entitlements under Clause 21 of the Permanent Award and Clause 14 of the Retained Award whereby new fathers are entitled to one week’s Paternity Leave at full pay OR two weeks at half pay from the date of the birth, and up to 51 weeks of unpaid paternity leave (or 50 weeks if you take two weeks of paid Paternity Leave at half pay).

Eligible members are entitled to DAPP any time in the first year after your child’s birth or adoption. You need to be on leave, either paid or unpaid, during your DAPP period (up to two weeks). You can choose when your DAPP period will start. It can start from the day your child is born or adopted, or it can start later, but for the full two weeks pay it must start within 50 weeks of your child’s birth or adoption.

By way of example, an eligible Qualified Firefighter on $1,344.42 per week who elects to take two weeks of paid Paternity Leave at half pay at $672.21 per week is now also entitled to two weeks of DAPP at $606.40 per week, thereby boosting his Paternity Leave pay to $1,278.61, or only $65.81 less per week than his ordinary pay. Alternatively, this member could now take a full month off work on $2,557.22 ($1344.42 from FRNSW in paid Paternity Leave and $1,212.80 in DAPP from the Commonwealth).

Members should contact an Industrial Officer at the Union office for further advice and assistance.

Note: This SITREP item has been subsequently updated by SITREP 4/2013 (click here):

Dad and Partner leave (DAPP) update

SITREP 2/2013 reported on the Federal Labor Government’s new ‘Dad and Partner Pay’ scheme. Members have since reported conflicting advice from the Family Assistance Office (FAO), so the Union has investigated the matter further. Following discussions with the FAO, it appears that DAPP is not payable whilst on paid leave. However, also during these discussions the Union identified that there are gaps in the legislation for shift workers and for workers who are only entitled to paid paternity leave whilst ever there is another primary care-giver. These issues had not previously been raised or considered by FAO, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), or the relevant Ministers.

The Union has also contacted the office of Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and they are now looking into the matter with DEEWR. As with any such government benefits the Union encourages members to get in contact with the FAO and discuss you personal situation before finalising your paternity leave plans, however at this stage most members do not appear to have an entitlement to DAPP. We hope to continue working with the relevant Departments to correct this anomaly.

Darin Sullivan
President and Acting State Secretary

 

About Darin Sullivan (1967 Articles)
President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and a professional firefighter with more than 25 years’ experience. Father of two daughters, he lives and works on the NSW South Coast, Australia. He is a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around him. He is a Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and works with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist he has long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. Now a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and has decades of experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. He is 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. Darin is also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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