In relation to the ‘Message from the Commissioner 12 August 2021’, remember there are two parties to the Award negotiations the employer in this case the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and employees represented by the PSA.
The role of the NSW RFS is to negotiate the best possible outcome on behalf of the NSW Government irrespective of employee interests. You may recall that the NSW Government introduced the NSW Public Sector Wages Policy in 2011. It was updated in 2021. This policy restricts wages growth and stems Award negotiations as shown below:
3.2 Increases in remuneration or other conditions of employment that increase employee related costs by more than 2.5 per cent per annum can be awarded, but only if sufficient employee related cost savings have been achieved to fully offset the increased employee related costs.
7.4 Agencies must consult with Employee Relations on any proposal that may result in changes to remuneration or other conditions of employment.
7.5. The bargaining proposal must include details of proposed changes to wages and conditions of employment, reform measures and cost savings (including advice on how the delivery of each of the employee related cost savings will be quantified and reported), and details of the proposed negotiating strategy .Agencies must consult the Wages Policy Taskforce on any proposal that may result in changes to remuneration or other conditions of employment – including agreements negotiated under clause 10 of the Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Reviewed Award 2009 or any successor award – prior to commencing negotiations.
For the past three years the PSA and your Delegates have been negotiating on your behalf in good faith for a cost-neutral Award as required by the Wages Policy. Members of the Executive Team representing the NSW RFS have been sitting opposite your representatives representing the NSW Government’s interests. Hence the Award principles as presented to you landed where they did due to government policy and the rejection of numerous proposals put forward by the PSA by representatives of the NSW RFS Executive Team.
The NSW RFS Executive Team claims to honour your views and employment conditions, yet there is no mention of RFS employees in the Commissioner’s Nine Priorities. They will fight to win what suits them, not what is in the best interest of their employees.
Our commitment remains to improve and modernise the Award that better protects and compensates you and your colleagues for the work that you perform.
The PSA will continue to negotiate an improved Award for all members, and which may require the intervention and arbitration from the Industrial Relations Commission.
Your union remains committed to working to protect your industrial rights and highlight areas of concern where and when they arise.
If you need more information, contact the PSA, or one of your delegates(listed below. Further communications will be sent out in the coming weeks.