Fisheries Officers continue to operate in the VM Taskforce with the commendation from the FOVBE. The FOVB has agreed on several operational changes including but not limited to the limitations on wearing batons and handcuffs, working incident rosters and uniforms.
Prescence within the VM Taskforce is voluntary but if Fisheries Officers can volunteer, they are encouraged. The PSA/FOVB knows that there are some Fisheries Officers that can’t volunteer for all sorts of reasons and members shouldn’t be pressured.
The discrepancy in pay for individuals who volunteer and other biosecurity type public servants remains apparent. Whilst there are long term applications afoot to deal with the under-grading issue, there are significant impediments allowing the PSA to address this in the immediacy, namely the current NSW Government Wages Regulation.
Fisheries Officer staff that remain when others volunteer are subject to additional work pressures. It is an inevitability that the longer the VM Taskforce operates, those work pressures will increase. Staff are to discuss with their respective management on what work will not be undertaken or what operations will be curtailed due to on-going staff shortages.
Entitlement Questions when Working VM Taskforce
The PSA reminds Fisheries Officers to be cognisant of the number of weekends and public holidays worked as there is a fixed amount that make up the 13.7% loading allowance. The PSA has discussed this matter previously with DRNSW Industrial Relations representatives and this will come up again as staff operate Incident Management rosters for extended periods of time.
Fisheries Officers have the option to take the approved overtime as either payment or leave in lieu. Even though the option is with the individual Fisheries Officer, Fisheries Officers should undertake conversations with their respective line management. A reminder that leave is subject to the convenience of the agency, however this should not be unreasonably refused. See Clause 96 of the Crown Employees (Conditions of Employment) Reviewed Award 2009.
Proposed Reform of Tumut and Jindabyne Fisheries Officer Stations
PSA and FOVB representatives were before the NSW IRC on Friday 23 September 2022 as part of the report back on the disputation surrounding the proposed establishment of “one up” Fisheries Officer Stations in Tumut and Jindabyne.
The PSA had previously agreed to provide a response to the DPI Fisheries Risk Assessment document and commentary, and this was completed before the report back.
DRNSW sought agreement from the NSW IRC to progress with filling of the proposed roles in the South-West Mobile Squad. The Commissioner was reluctant to provide agreement as to mute the PSA arguments, so the current suspension of those proposed arrangements remain.
The next report back to the IRC is on Friday 7 October where the PSA will provide DPI Fisheries with clear practical terms and physical controls that should be satisfied before the PSA/FOVB would even entertain One Up Fisheries Officer Stations.
Whilst it is the intention of the PSA/FOVB to genuinely reach agreement on the reform and the WHS issues, both parties have expressed concerns to the NSW IRC Commissioner, that there are significant differences and is still away apart on agreement. This is apart from the PSA/FOVB stating that this is a bad idea.
Fisheries Officers have told the PSA that these reforms represent a line in the sand that, if crossed, will lead to an escalation of disruption and disputation.
Reminder: Fisheries Officer General Meeting 13 October
Don’t forget to put the FOVB General Meeting in your diaries. This is an activity that is undertaken by Fisheries Officers outside of work time. There will be lots to discuss and its this kind of interaction with our members that supports and shapes the actions of the FOVB/PSA.