FBEU SITREP 3/2013 “Overtime blow out a sham”

 January 18, 2013

budget cuts

  • Overtime blow out a sham
  • Community First Responder


Overtime blow out a sham

The idiotic KPI pressure gauges on the Department’s intranet site are a good metaphor for the silliness afflicting FRNSW generally these days. The annual overtime budget for 2012/13 is facing huge overruns not because of increased staff absences (the opposite applies) or even increased operations, but because it was set so pathetically low at $10M that it was never going to be met. Compare it with previous years:

Financial Year

Perm & Retd total spend

Overtime spend

Overtime as % of total


$167.9 M

$17.7 M

10.5 %


$173.6 M

$18.1 M

10.4 %


$181.9 M

$19.5 M

10.7 %


$196.3 M

$20.9 M

11.0 %


$209.3 M

$20.1 M

10.0 %


$222.6 M

$20.1 M

9.0 %


$240.3 M

$21.8 M

9.1 %


$258.6 M

$19.0 M

7.3 %


$271.6 M

$21.3 M

7.8 %


$290.5 M

$19.8 M

6.8 %


$307.5 M

$17.1 M

5.5 %


$316.3 M

$24.0 M

7.5 %


$323.2 M

$25.0 M

7.7 %


$324.6 M (estimate)

$10.0 M (budgeted)

3.1 %


Since 2000, the annual spend on firefighter overtime has averaged 8.7% of total firefighter wages, so both the 5 and 10 year trends were falling, not climbing. The inevitable and self-imposed “overtime blow out” in 2012/13 is simply a contrived prop with which the Minister and the Department are now using to beat and blame firefighters in order to justify their irresponsible budget cuts.

Community First Responder

The IRC’s Justice Staff has scheduled the work value determination (the size of any allowance or extra payment) for retained members performing Community First Responder (CFR) for hearing on 2 April. This is not a new issue, having remained a “leave reserved” claim by the Union since the 2008 Awards.

The Union successfully argued that there was nothing in O’Farrell’s new IR laws which prevents the IRC from determining the size of any wage increases based on work value, only that the IRC can’tactually award those increases unless there are offsetting savings found elsewhere to pay for them. The Department argued that employee-related cost savings should be found first, but the Union countered with the obvious: that you can’t know how much you need to find until you’ve valued the work.

This case is significant, and believed to be unprecedented in the new world of O’Farrell’s IR reforms which were meant to extinguish work value cases altogether. It is also timely given the O’Farrell Government’s release last month of its “Reform Plan for NSW Ambulance”, which confirms its intention to roll out first responder across the state, and across FRNSW. More to follow.

Darin Sullivan
President and Acting State Secretary

About Darin Sullivan (1980 Articles)
Former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (2009-2018) and a professional firefighter with more than 30 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 former 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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