Members will be aware that since the Employment Court decision, the Union has been meeting with the Fire Service in an effort to work through some issues that have arisen as a consequence of the successful outcome of the Court case.
The issue of M.S.M. has been a major guiding principle of the Firefighters Union, based both on the Health and Safety of firefighters and ensuring a proper response to the needs of the public in times of emergency.
Those involved in the Union’s battle throughout the 90’s will remember the many and varied tactics that the employer attempted including inducements and bribes to get reduced crews on fire appliances.
Clearly, with the number of days that members are now entitled to as a result of the Court case, there will be times when M.S.M. may be placed in jeopardy if not managed correctly.
The Union, therefore, does not wish to allow M.S.M. to be compromised by the employer’s actions and as such, has put to Fire Service Management a proposal to deal with this matter.
The Union is advised that a special meeting of the Commission is to be held on Wednesday 14 September to consider whether or not to appeal the Employment Court decision. Any Notice of Appeal must be filed by Monday 19 September.
It is the Union’s understanding that the National Commander (Mike Hall) and the National Manager of Human Resources (Vincent Arbuckle) will be delivering a paper to the Commission on the Days in Lieu issues and the facts relevant to making a decision to seek an appeal on this Court case or not.
The Union is of the view that the paper will cover proposals to deal with the Days in Lieu issue such as:
- Buying back details.
- Increasing establishment numbers.
- Creating part-time/casual positions within establishments.
- Probability of running below M.S.M., as a result of persons taking their Days in Lieu.
The Union finds the implications of some of these proposals completely unacceptable as they would lead to significant ongoing employment problems and an unnecessary deterioration of workplace relations. This is a situation that the Union believes must be avoided. We have all seen the legacy left by the C.S.T. concept and the ‘Way Forward’ proposal. Dredging them up again would be totally counter-productive to the current Fire Service environment.
The Union has, therefore, in general terms, proposed the following methodology of dealing with Days in Lieu entitlement based on maintaining M.S.M. and fairness and equity for members to have access to their accumulated lieu days.
- The portion of members’ lieu days that are outside of the 12-month time frame be bought back by the employer.
- The Union and Fire Service to agree on a suitable rate that the employer could buy back their lieu day entitlement. This would be a per shift rate for both day and night shifts.
The remaining balance be dealt with as follows:
Non High Demand Days/Nights.
- Member submits application for a Day in Lieu.
- Approval granted subject to M.S.M. being maintained.
This process currently operates now for A.S.L. (Service Holiday) and present Days in Lieu applications. No real changes or new processes.
High Demand Days/Nights.
e.g. Christmas/New Year Holidays. Maybe some others, if demand deems it necessary over time.
- Application for Day in Lieu submitted no later than 14 days in advance of the required day, or in a longer timeframe agreed between the Local Union and Fire Service Management
Staff members wishing to make themselves available to cover shift of the same period will be required to submit notification of their availability within the same timeframe.
- Upon the collation of both application and notification of availability to match M.S.M., the Union will undertake a formal ballot matching up the application with expressions of interest from those members wishing to maintain M.S.M.
- Members who are unsuccessful will have their application declined and will then need to make alternative arrangements if they require a Day in Lieu.
A detailed proposal still needs working through, but the Union believes that with the full co-operation of Fire Service Management and the commitment of the Union and its members, a workable solution is achievable. Notwithstanding this, the Union acknowledges that members have individual rights but recognises the needs of the public and the safety of firefighters to be significant. We also would expect the Fire Service to amend policies that currently would restrict our ability to maintain M.S.M.