The PSA recently met with your delegates at PSA House and shortly after, the Joint Consultative Committee at RFS Headquarters.
Due to staff movements within the PSA, your new Industrial Officer Michael Sinclair and Organiser Peter Clark were introduced at both meetings.
Mental health strategy
The PSA considers the new mental health strategy a good start. However, your union feels it failed to provide sufficient guidance with regards to paid staff. We note that the 2022 People Matters Survey highlighted that 34 per cent of Rural Fire Service (RFS) staff identified as feeling burnt out.
The Mental Health Strategy fails to address risks identified within the Code of Practice: Managing Psychological Hazards at Work, such as Role Overload, Role Conflict and poor change management.
The PSA understands the RFS will develop a self-assessment tool for the identification and mitigation of mental health risks within the workplace. The PSA will continue to actively monitor the progress of this important strategy.
Workplace Conduct Priority Project
The PSA welcomes actions by the RFS to review and improve how the organisation deals with workplace complaints. Effective processes that are fair, efficient, respectful, and safe are essential in ensuring that the RFS remains healthy and functional. The PSA has highlighted several areas of concern with regards to the Workplace Complaints Resolution Framework and will continue to actively engage with the RFS in order to advocate for workers rights.
Draft Secondary Employment Policy
The PSA has requested feedback in regards to draft policy P3.2.8 Secondary Employment which was circulated for staff feedback in January 2022. To date P3.2.8 Secondary Employment has not been finalised. The PSA will continue to pursue this issue.
RFS Organisational Chart
The PSA has requested a complete Organisational Chart through several forums, however the RFS has surprisingly been unable to do so. We have now been promised an Org Chart down to Manager level. The PSA made it clear it is surprising and concerning that an agency is unable to provide an essential management tool. We have been advised the Workforce Team are looking at options for a significantly enhanced charting tool. The PSA will continue to pursue this issue.
Annualised Conditions Allowance (ACA) review
The PSA understands it has been more than 12 months since the last review and sought a commitment from the RFS to conduct a review as a priority. The PSA sought to participate in all future reviews.
Draft Area Operations Framework
The PSA has expressed its disappointment with the RFS in failing to consult with the Draft Area Operations Framework. This framework may result in significant workflow arrangements for members resulting in increased workloads or undertaking work of a higher level.
The PSA has requested meaningful consultation prior to the implementation of the framework.
Restructuring and re-profiling roles
The PSA continues to advocate for the release of an up-to-date organisational chart that displays all funded positions within the RFS. It is widely understood by our members that the RFS continues to re-profile or regrade roles, such as RFS 8/9 to RFS 6/7, across the organisation when these positions are vacant.
It is the view of the PSA that re-profiling is restructuring by stealth. If Members become aware of any role being downgraded (re-profile), please contact your delegates or the PSA Member Support at .
The PSA has raised the issue of members requesting a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) election within the Planning & Environmental Services (PES) Team and Area Command North West (ACNW) work groups.
The PSA has been advised that the ACNW will be allowed to elect a new HSR and Deputy. However, the PSA was advised that the PES Team will not be allowed to form its own workgroup and elect an HSR.
The Senior Consultative Group (SCG) appear to have decided to retain a HSR model based on geographical boundaries. The SCG don’t want work groups (HSRs) to be defined by specialist roles.
The PSA asked what consultation had occurred with each specific work group seeking to have a HSR election. The response from the Work Health & Safety Team was, “We haven’t communicated with them yet”.
The PSA is genuinely concerned that a decision had been made without any form of consultation or negotiation with the PES workgroup and will continue to advocate on members behalf until resolved to our satisfaction.