Rural Fire Service: PSA Joint Consultative Committee/Camping allowance update - Public Service Association

Rural Fire Service: PSA Joint Consultative Committee/Camping allowance update

The PSA met with Rural Fire Service (RFS) management on 16 February for the quarterly Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) meeting. The following was discussed:

RFS Award

The RFS advised of the communications it is having with staff in relation to award conditions. We reminded management that this matter remains in the Industrial Relations Commission, where we will be back on 2 March for directions regarding the provision of evidence for hearing later in the year. The PSA will continue to press for a better award with better conditions for our members. We will be sending out a further bulletin and a survey concerning the Award in the coming days.

Volunteer vaccinations

The PSA raised major concerns about the RFS’s inconsistent approach between vaccination requirements for staff and volunteers. The rationale for mandating vaccinations for employees was the importance of the agency in its emergency functions and the massively detrimental impact that might be caused if COVID-19 were to cut across the agency. Volunteers and employees work alongside one another and COVID-19 does not discriminate. Delays until the middle of the year for volunteers to be vaccinated makes no sense and we will continue to press our views on this matter.

Grievance and discipline review

The PSA has had previous concerns regarding how grievances and disciplinary matters have been dealt within RFS. We have advised that we need to be consulted in regard to these reviews. The PSA made it clear that these are key issues for your union. Much work is required to ensure these processes meet the high standards that they currently lack.

Recruitment and vacancies

The PSA raised our concerns regarding the high number of vacancies, the poor processes in recruitment and the impacts on staff. The RFS advised this is one of the key areas it is looking at, stemming from the PMES survey. We are hopeful of improved results. There are many areas where improvements are required. A particular emphasis should be placed in the OpO and State Mitigation areas. The PSA has requested a full list of vacancies from RFS and if you have concerns in your area please advise us.

Travel Arrangements to Dubbo

Management have given a commitment to working with staff who are required to travel to Dubbo, in particular for staff who are required to travel outside of bandwidth on weekends to be compensated as per the Crown Award and paid the excess travel allowance (if not already received in an ACA). Management has also given a commitment to ensuring that the most time efficient travel method is used, including the use of the RFS citations where applicable, such as moving a pool of staff from a location to the training academy. Members are encouraged to speak with their manager to access the most efficient travel and appropriate award entitlements, if members are having issues with accessing these arrangements then please discuss with their delegate.

Camping allowance

In addition to the JCC, in December 2021, the PSA won in the Industrial Relations Commission an entitlement for all RFS employees to receive a camping allowance while accommodated in base camps (see previous bulletin HERE). This means the RFS has historically been underpaying staff accommodated in base camps by failing to pay the camping allowance. The PSA is seeking that the RFS back pay all employees their full entitlements. On 22 January 2022, the PSA wrote to the RFS to request that it advise how it proposes to repay its staff. On 14 February 2022, the RFS responded and advised that it will honour the Commission’s decision and it is provide an update on the implementation of the decision by the end of this month.

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