On Tuesday, October 31, the PSA held the regular Departmental Committee (DC) meeting with your NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) delegates. The DC meets four (4) times a year to discuss matters affecting the agency and member, and to identify collective issues. This bulletin summarises the key points discussed by the committee and provides an update on the upcoming Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) meeting on Wednesday, November 8, 2023.
Members should also be aware that the New South Wales Minister for Emergency Services attended the prior DC meeting in August, where your concerns were ventilated directly with your Parliamentary representative.
Health Safety Representative Elections
Your PSA representatives have observed significant delays in the NSW RFS’s response to the determination of a Planning & Environmental Services (PES) workgroup and subsequent Health Safety Representative (HSR) elections. The PSA will take steps to expedite these processes in compliance with WHS legislative requirements.
Academy Weekend Directions
Personnel at the Academy have been directed to remain on-site over the weekends due to concerns related to travel costs and fatigue management within the RFS. Further discussions will be held to address this issue.
Operational Communications Centre (OCC) hand-backs have grown significantly due to an increase in fire weather days. It has come to our attention that a large majority of staff are taking hand-backs on weekends and after hours, with only Local Arrangement (LA) time as compensation. Additionally, concerns have arisen regarding the management of employee fatigue, with some members reporting working up to 10 consecutive days, including 5 normal days followed by 5 Incident Management Team (IMT) days.
Application of Annualised Conditions Allowance (ACA)
The RFS lacks a clear establishment chart outlining positions eligible for ACA, raising concerns about unequal application. Reports have also surfaced indicating staff have been directed to redact 2 hours from their Major Incident Conditions form if they are on ACA. We will seek clarification and resolution on this matter.
The PSA remains critical of the RFS concerning ongoing issues with disciplinary matters not following due process under the Government Sector Employment (GSE) Rules. We will continue to advocate for a fair and transparent process.
Emergency Services Agency Review
The RFS is yet to implement the recommendations from the 2017/18 NSW Upper House Inquiry. These recommendations include the appointment of a third-party independent entity to review complaints in emergency services and the creation of simplified fact sheets for employees to access and comprehend Service Standards regarding bullying and harassment.
Your PSA representatives are scheduled to meet with the RFS at the upcoming JCC on November 8, 2023. We will keep members updated on the outcomes of the concerns we have raised on your behalf. Your active participation is encouraged, and we remain committed to addressing these important issues for our members.
Your RFS Delegates
Your PSA Organiser
Your PSA Industrial Officer