To the PSA’s surprise and disappointment, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) has decided to go its own way with the camping allowance underpayment matter.
Over the past six months the PSA and the RFS have been in discussions with how to properly reimburse all RFS employees entitled to the camping allowance and bedding and sleeping bag allowance. The PSA has been attempting to ensure that all employees receive full back pay of their entitlements.
Despite failing to respond to the PSA for six weeks, the RFS has now advised the PSA that it will be writing to a group of employees to advise them that they can submit evidence to support their claim for repayment and that they will be required to sign deeds, which are legal contracts, stating that the amount claimed is in full and final satisfaction of the amount owed by the RFS. This will be required in order to receive payment.
The PSA does not support this course as there is no reasonable basis to:
- Limit the group of employees who are entitled to back pay
- Require employees to sign deeds in circumstances where the RFS is just repaying its staff their entitlements
- Require employees to provide evidence of an entitlement when it was the RFS who needed to retain these records and it was the RFS telling its employees they were not entitled to these allowances.
The PSA has written to the RFS to advise that it should refrain from issuing any deed or inviting staff to agree to any deeds. We also advise that we are in dispute and a dispute notification has been filed in the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW. Further bulletins will be issued in the near future to update this matter.
In the interim, all employees should refrain from agreeing to any deeds.