NEWS

MALONE REVIEW REPORT INTO RURAL FIRE SERVICES RELEASED

Members are advised that the Malone Review into Rural Fire Services in Queensland was today publically released.  The review report contains many far reaching recommendations which will have significant consequences as to the delivery of fire and rescue services statewide.  The report is available here.  

The SOU is seeking feedback via Branch Councillors as the potential impact (both positive and negative) on Queensland as a result of the many recommendations contained in the report.

The Government has advised that it will be considering the findings of this review in the context of the Keelty Review findings, yet to be announced.

Please provide all feedback to your Branch Councillor by midday 26 April, so that summary branch feedback can be forwarded on to the State Executive (via the State Secretary).

The SOU will be making formal public comment after all member feedback is considered and a formal position formed.

Regards

SOU State Executive

SOU MARCH 2013 UPDATE

20 March - SOU Meeting with Minister Jack Dempsey

The SOU President and Secretary recently met with Minister Jack Dempsey, with a wide range of topics being discussed.

Topics of note included the important role played by QFRS senior officers in supporting emergency service delivery across Queensland.  The recent QFRS response to the 2013 flood emergency was put forward as a prime example of how QFRS senior officers underpin and lead operations that result in minimising impact on local communities from any emergency event, large or small.  Also discussed was the current Keelty Review, with the SOU communicating our view as to organisational strategies that should be considered - as recently put to Mr Keelty and his review team.  All in all, the meeting was cordial with Minister Dempsey acknowledging the contributions made by QFRS senior officers.  We look forward to future opportunities to exchange views with Minister Dempsey as the representative of the State Govt.

Preparations for Enterprise Agreement QIRC Arbitration

With the QIRC full bench scheduled to sit 24 to 28 June 2013, SOU preparations are ongoing in preparation for putting forward our best case.  Over the coming days nominated SOU members will be approached to assist in these preparations through the provision of individual affidavit testimony.  This testimony is required to evidence the claims we have submitted on behalf of SOU members.  Further information on the arbitration process will be forthcoming over the coming months.

2013 SOU State Conference          

As previously advised, the 2013 SOU State Conference will be held on Friday 19 April at QCESA Whyte Island, commencing at 1000hrs.

Senior Officers may attend without leave penalty subject to there being no impact on operational service delivery. This has been agreed to between the SOU and the QFRS in accordance with clause 11.5.4 of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Award – State 2012. Officers seeking to attend the Conference should liaise with their Assistant Commissioner, and seek support to attend.

SOU members should notify their Branch Councillor in respect to:

> Their intention to attend the Conference, and for
> Submission of agenda items.

Members intending to attend the conference MUST advise their Branch Councillors by 5 April. Branch Councillors, please advise Vice President Kevin Walsh on your regional attendee numbers. Branch Councillors requiring travel and accommodation are asked to make their own arrangements where necessary, with reimbursement available from State Treasurer Neil Reid - upon request.

Branch Councillors can provide agenda items directly to the State Secretary, again by 5 April please.

Clarification - Application of Extraordinary Duties Provision

Discussions with the QFRS are still ongoing regarding the application of the Extraordinary Duties provision on public holidays.  Further information will be forthcoming when available.   

In summary, this is a very busy period for SOU, with a number of very important matters currently in play.  We ask that members provide support where and when requested over the coming weeks, with a view to the SOU continuing to achieve good outcomes as has been the case over the previous few years.

Regards

Andrew Short AFSM
State Secretary

QIRC ARBITRATION TO COMMENCE 24 JUNE 2013

Today the 1st of February 2013, the SOU attended the first Arbitration hearing in front of the Full Bench of the Queensland Industrial Commission (QIRC). Along with the SOU, the UFU and CFMEQ were also in attendance.

The purpose of the meeting was to agree on the format, approach and timetable for the upcoming Arbitration. The SOU briefed the Commission on our position (regarding input to the Arbitration) - this being that the SOU seeks:
- Input and representation as to the final wage quantum
- Input and representation as to the date of wage rise commencement
- The opportunity to make submissions on any issue arising during arbitration that may impact senior officers.

There will be considerable work to do as submissions and options are proposed back and forth between the parties. In addition inspections may occur and witnesses may also need to be considered and briefed as necessary.

The SOU is obtaining industrial relations advice to ensure our needs are properly considered. The Full Bench hearing is currently set down for the 24 - 28 June 2013.

In the interim we are also meeting with the QFRS to ensure the that our other agreed improvements of a 1.7% interim payment is back paid to the date of application (15 Nov) - as well as a process being finalised for the Inspector TOIL payout, meal allowance, PDO accrual, and sick leave while on annual leave EB components.

We will keep you informed as information comes to hand or contact your Branch Councillor if you have any questions.

Regards

SOU State Executive

File 

SOU MEETING WITH KEELTY REVIEW TEAM - 30 JANUARY 2013

UPDATE:  SOU Executive Committee members met with Mick Keelty AO APM and members of his review team on 30 January 2013, and articulated the important role played by QFRS Senior Officers.  At the meeting the SOU posed credible options for improvements to emergency service delivery across Queensland - as regularly discussed at State Council level.  In summary - Mr Keelty was very receptive to our delegation, and we look forward to continuing dialogue as the review process continues.       

Original Story

2013 has now commenced, and with it will no doubt come a series of changes and possible challenges for our industry.
In reviewing the delivery of emergency services across Queensland, the Government have an opportunity to build on the many things that are currently good and sound, and an even greater opportunity to pull down the barriers that all emergency service practitioners regularly see impacting the provision of these critical community services.
The SOU calls on the Government to use reason and logic as the foundation of any service delivery change, and to not allow the narrow and self-serving agendas of any stakeholder to skew - and therefore compromise the potential good to be found in further developing Queensland emergency service capability.  The ongoing legacy of bureaucracy and centralisation thinking cherished by previous Governments must be the focus of any attempts to improve emergency service delivery in these fiscally focused times.

Since becoming a state wide singular fire service in 1990, the QFRS and its earlier predecessors have never failed Queensland in times of need.  During this 20 plus year period significant events in other states have shown interstate emergency service agencies to have major shortcomings in their service delivery capability.  Whilst there has been rare occasions where the QFRS has learnt lessons that have then led to service delivery improvements, there (to date) has been no significant and systematic failure of QFRS service delivery - through the full range of all-hazard risks and emergencies that modern societies must manage.  QFRS senior officers have significantly and positively contributed to these outcomes.

The SOU seeks for sanity to prevail as the emergency service reviews continue into 2013.  To this end, our views and concerns have formally been put to the Government regarding this period of change, including a recent submission to the Rural Review.  Additional formal submissions are also being provided to the Keelty Review.

SOU members are now asked to raise these issues directly with your local member of parliament.

Regards


SOU State Executive

QIRC GRANTS INTERIM PAY INCREASE AND OTHER ITEMS TO QFRS SENIOR OFFICERS

Today (11 December) the SOU and UFU were before the QIRC for a final meeting before the EB is sent before a full bench for Arbitration some time in 2013.  The main purpose of this meeting was to identify issues that were in agreement and other issues that will need to go to arbitration.  The UFU and the QFRS agreed upon the relevant issues already agreed upon and the further issues from their claims that will be sent to arbitration.

In terms of the SOU, the four agreed items (granted today by the QIRC) were as previously discussed namely:

1. Payment of meal allowances where a substantial meal is unable to be provided. (This is applicable to light meals, snacks or ration packs),

2. Accrual of up to 5 programmed days off, in circumstances when it would not incur any cost,

3. Paying out toil on request for the Inspector Rank, and 

4. Use of sick leave entitlement when an officer is on annual or long service leave (As per QFRS Award - State 2012, Schedule 1 - Clause 4.8.2).

On the 28th November 2012, the QIRC issued a statement that proposed an interim increase of 1.7% for Senior Officers until the matter is arbitrated with a commencement date of 15 November.  Whilst the SOU was appreciative of the QIRC proposal that recognised its patience during the negotiations with other unions, the SOU provided a response that the interim payment should be raised to 2.35% in line with the current CORE public service offer.  Whilst the QIRC Commissioner considered the SOU proposal, she was unmoved from her original position of awarding an interim increase of 1.7% dated from 15 November 2012 until the matter is arbitrated, along with the four dot points above.  The Commissioner also ordered that these arrangements be put in place administratively and that this is completed within two weeks.

The SOU has also reserved the right to be part of the arbitration process and will be allowed to make submissions in relation to issues that may affect its membership.

QFRS Senior Officer pay rates as of the 15 November 2012 are available here.

Thank you

SOU State Executive