Collective Agreement - Pay Review Working Party

Further to Newsletters No. 27 – 25 July 2012, No. 31 – 15 August, No. 34 – 2 October, No. 35 – 10 October and No. 37 – 21 November –

  • The current C.A. expires on 31 December 2012;
  • The Committee has agreed to roll-over existing C.A. for a period of 6 months or less if the parties agree otherwise, whichever is sooner.
  • There will be a $500 before tax cash payment to all members. This will be paid before Christmas.
Why?

The Union and employer have been involved in this Joint Working Party (set up in terms of the C.A.) for some 4 months now. The work thus far completed looks to be positive and should produce some very significant (good) outcomes for members. 

The work is not finalised however, and may not be finalised for some months (particularly given the Christmas/New Year period).
As well, any outcomes need to have Commission/Government sign-off before the Fire Service can be in a position to agree to any outcomes.
Only after we have a firm agreement from the Fire Service can the proposals be put to members for ratification.

What were the Options?

The options are pretty clear –

  • Abandon the Working Party (at least for some time) and enter formal bargaining.
    Inevitably these would drag on past the expiry date of the C.A. (history tells us this), and given current circumstances, it is most unlikely that anything significant would be decided anyway.

    The C.A. would effectively be rolled over (that is – would continue on an expired basis) and members would get nothing.

  • Simply let the C.A. expire and continue the work of the Working Party. This outcome would provide nothing for members in the short term.

  • Renew the C.A. on a roll-over basis with the $500.00

The Committee is well aware of members’ objections to lump sum payments and the Committee agrees with this position. However, in this case, a lump sum is advantageous.

The Pay Review Working Party’s findings are based on a comparison with other actual paid rates. Therefore because the $500 will not feed into base rates; the comparison arrived will not be disturbed.

How can the Committee make this decision?

Conference Resolution 6/2003 provides the Ratification Procedure the Union must use to ratify a Collective Agreement. Para e) states:

“Not withstanding the above policy, in the case of minor variations to an existing Collective Agreement that does not adversely affect the conditions of employment, the Union Committee be authorized to accept or reject such a variation. Any acceptance to be on a unanimous basis, and subject to consultation with Local Secretaries”.

Local Secretaries were provided with a full update on the work of the Working Party at Conference and also received a written outline of the Committees position.

The Committee have, as per the Conference Resolution, consulted with Local Secretaries.
No negative feedback was received from Local Secretaries.

What does all this mean in regards to future remuneration?

The working Party has undertaken a deal of work in establishing the “Job Size” of a Firefighter (at SFF and S.O. Level). This work has been done jointly with the Fire Service management, with the assistance of the Hay Group – an outside expert consultancy.

What this means is the two relevant Firefighter positions are sized and then related to other occupations that have a similar size. The remuneration of the other occupations is then used as a basis for a consideration of the Firefighter positions.

As we all know, this exercise is particularly difficult as there are no other occupations that are very similar to that of Firefighting – however, there are occupations that have some similarities in work conditions – for example – Shift Workers.

The end result of this work is to, in effect, create some sort of benchmark that Firefighters can be related to.

Once this has been finalised, this can provide a logical, justifiable and, to some extent, a scientific basis for fixing a Firefighter wage, and justifying increases.

(You will appreciate that at present, more than ever, there is a strong opposition from government and other government agencies to any worker pay increases).

As well, the Working Party is looking at how changes can be implemented – phased in – and this includes consideration pf steps/increments. In this regard, the Committee is taking on board the Conference resolution regarding recognition/payment for qualifications.

Conclusion:

The Committee realises there is merit (considerable merit) in continuing to completion, the work of the Pay Review Working Party.

The Committee’s assessment is that this type of exercise is the only realistic way Firefighters will receive the remuneration they are entitled to. It is however too early to provide anything approaching finalised figures or on quantum of increases at this stage.

As well, government/Commission sign-off is needed.

The Committee believes that the renewed C.A. does form the basis as proposed of giving the best opportunity for the work to be completed/concluded and does provide some additional remuneration for members.

Fire Service Review

Attached for members’ information is the Union’s submission to the Fire Service Review. The Review is looking at, in particular, the legislated Role, Function & Mandate for the Fire Service and the consequent Funding Mechanism.

Also attached are the two Reports commissioned by the Union –

  1. Looking at The Value Firefighters Return to the Community. This very significant research has also been presented to the Fire Service in the forum of the Pay Review Working Party has been presented and discussed with the government – Minister of Internal Affairs.
  2. Looking at Funding Mechanisms. This has also been presented and discussed with the government – Minister of Internal Affairs.

Closure of the Union Office

The Union Office will be closed from 21 December until 7 January 2012. If urgent matters arise during that period, please contact a National Committee Member.

WISHING ALL MEMENRS AND THEIR FAMILIES A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.
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