The long awaited major incidents case with the Rural Fire Service (RFS) has been finalised with over 140 members so far receiving back pay for incorrect payments since 2006.
In 2011, the PSA ran a successful case in the Industrial Magistrates Court following failed discussions and disputation in the Industrial Relations Commission.
The Association disputed the interpretation of the Major Incidents clause in the award which was not being consistently applied across the service.
The prosecution was on the basis that:
- Wash Up Time after completing their duties was not paid
- Staff who had completed their block of shifts had not been paid for stand down days that fell on weekends
- Staff had not been paid appropriate rates for travel to and from incidents
- Staff had not been allowed the prescribed rest breaks after three consecutive shifts, instead being required to work five consecutive twelve hour days.
- Incorrect shift penalties were paid on Sundays
The RFS admitted to some of the breaches in the Magistrates Court and has subsequently paid those members.
Although the matters were finalised in February 2011, it has taken until 2013 for the Rural Fire Service to finalise all of the back payments to members, some of whom have received up to $5,000.
As the Chief Industrial Magistrate’s Court is a “costs” jurisdiction, the PSA has sought to retrieve some of the expense incurred in pursuing this case.
This is an important aspect of the matter and aims to encourage the RFS to work with the PSA in the future to resolve such issues without the need for expensive litigation.
Due to the current financial pressures on the RFS and other government agencies, the PSA has not sought to retrieve all of its costs. This matter is currently being finalised.
The issue in relation to Major Incidents does not finish here however. T here is still a significant amount of work to be done as the decision has implications for other parts of the current award.
The PSA is continuing to discuss these matters with the Rural Fire Service in order to obtain the best outcome for members.