Alleged Officership Overpayment

The Union is informed that the Fire Service Commission has filed proceedings with the Employment Relations Authority against 392 Officers (the Union is not named as a party) regarding this alleged over-payment.

The Union’s advice is that this is an unusual way to proceed such a claim. The Fire Service Commission’s application is self-explanatory, although significantly misleading.

As members know, the backpay resulting from the ratification of the existing C.A. was made as a lump sum. The Fire Service did not break down the individual components of the backpay. Consequently no one was in any position to determine what date the Officership Allowance was backdated to.

The F.S.C. has still not provided that breakdown so as to establish whether the error they allege has in fact occurred.

In any event, the F.S.C.’s application, when forwarded to the named members, will also include a form for a reply to the application, within the prescribed timeframe – 14 days from receipt of the application.

If you wish to object to the application, you must reply within the timeframe. It would be likely that any reply would include the following:

  1. Your view of the matter:
    - No such debt has occurred.

  2. Your view of the relevant facts:
    - The backpay received was a lump sum and not broken down into its component parts.

    - There was no way I could determine when the Officership Allowance was backdated to.

    - Apart from being told by the Fire Service that the Fire Service backdated the Officership Allowance to 1 January 2007, the Fire Service has provided no information that establishes this.

    - The backpay was received in good faith and I am entitled to believe the Fire Service calculated it correctly.

    - In any event, the backpay was received 12 months ago and it has been spent.

  3. Documents to be supplied:
    - If you still have the backpay pay slip, this could be attached.

  4. Mediation:
    - Tick the no box.

  5. Other steps taken:
    - It may be you have responded to the Fire Service previously offering a repayment method, if so, this could be referred to

  6. Why have you not used mediation?
    You were not aware that this was an option, but you are happy to go to mediation at a convenient time/locality.

Obviously 392 persons replying to the Authority along these lines, and each indicating a willingness to attend mediation for their specific case will cause some administrative/logistical issues and no doubt these will need to be clarified before any mediations are organized.

The Union will provide further information to affected members as details of what the Employment Relations Authority intends to do are received.

If further assistance is necessary at this time, please contact a National Committee member.

Management Restructure

Members will be aware of the discussion document the Fire Service has released regarding another Management Restructure – the re-creation of an Area Structure.

If implemented, the organizational structure of the Fire Service would revert back to that in place 15 years ago with three levels (as opposed to the present two levels):

  • Region
  • Areas
  • Districts

On the face of it, re-introducing a further management level hardly seems to improve efficiency. The Union will be responding to the draft. In broad terms, the Union’s response will emphasise:

  • The lack of genuine consultation
  • As the Fire Service claims the positions – Area Manager and Asst. Area Manager – are new positions, the Union expects the positions to be advertised in the Gazette and allcomers will be entitled to apply.

The Union strongly suggests that any members who wish to submit comments on the Draft do this through the Union.

Collective Agreement Claims

The Union is interested in members’ suggestions for claims for negotiations later this year for a renewed Collective Agreement.

Claims will be considered by Branch Conferences in October and then finalized by the Union Committee. All suggestions forwarded directly to the Union from members can be considered in these forums.

Occupational Health & Safety Survey

The Union has been consulted regarding a Survey on Health & Safety within the Fire Service, to be conducted by a Masters Student at Canterbury University. As a consequence, some changes have been made.

The Union is happy for members to choose to participate if they wish, and the Union will be provided with a copy of the Survey’s results.

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