NEWS

8 AUGUST UPDATE - 2012 ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT NEGOTIATIONS

The SOU enterprise bargaining team has been negotiating on SOU members' behalf since 11 May 2012.  Throughout the process we have been in close communication with all unions party to the Single Bargaining Unit (SBU).  This includes the UFU, Together Union, AMWU, CFMEU and ETU.  In particular we have had frequent discussions and meetings with the UFU to ensure appropriate and consistent representation.

On 30 July we had a meeting with senior representatives of the Public Service Commission.  Subsequently - the SOU advised the QFRS that we agreed in principle to the following:

1. 2.7% per year wage increase over the 3 year life of the agreement.
2. Payment of meal allowances where a substantial meal is unable to be provided. (This is applicable to light meals, snacks and /or ration packs).
3. Accrual of up to 5 Programmed Days Off, in circumstances when it would not incur any cost.
4. Paying out toil on request for the Inspector rank.
5. Use of sick leave entitlement when an officer is on annual or long-service leave. (As per QFRS Interim Award – State 2003, Schedule 1. Clause 4.8.2).

The following day we were verbally advised by the government that they acknowledged our correspondence but were unable to accept or act on it due to the constraints of the SBU model.

Since then we have attended the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) twice as part of conciliation hearings.  Today (8 August 2012) in the QIRC (before Commissioner Fisher) we sought advice on the possibility of gaining a separate agreement to allow us to move forward in seeking formal acceptance.  This would also allow the main parties (UFU and QFRS) to continue to negotiate without distraction.  The QIRC advice is that no separate agreement is likely at this stage due to the Government’s preference for a single agreement across all parties.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO US?

There are a number of follow up meetings between all parties over the coming weeks to try and progress the negotiations.  We are due back in the Commission on 24 August 2012.  We still have an in-principle agreement on the table dated 30 July 2012.  Whether the operative date for our members will be honoured (on the basis that we responded prior to the EB deadline of 31 July 2012) is unknown, although we feel there should be some moral obligation to do so.  Having said this – the reality is that the SBU has not at this time reached formal agreement.  The SOU will be party to all further discussions involving the Government and other SBU parties, with a view to protecting and advocating for the interests of SOU members.

The intention is to convene the SOU State Council when it becomes clearer on where these negotiations are headed - with a view to seeking input from all members through SOU regional councillors.  In the meantime, should SOU members have any queries, please take up with your regional councillor in the first instance.

We will continue to keep you updated.

Regards

SOU State Secretary 

FIREFIGHTER MENTAL HEALTH SURVEY NOW AVAILABLE

SOU members are invited and encouraged to participate in a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) survey of firefighter mental health.  This initiative is the result of collaboration between QUT, SOU, UFU, and QFRS, and is fully supported.

An overview of the research is available here.

The actual survey can be accessed here.

Please participate in this important area of reseach.
Thank you
SOU State Secretary

SUCCESS! - SENIOR FIRE OFFICER POSITIONS NOW EXEMPTED FROM EMP

UPDATE as of 24 April.  It's a pleasure to report to SOU members that this matter is now resolved, with QFRS Senior Officers now being exempted from the Govt's EMP process.  My thanks to all parties concerned.

Regards

SOU State Secretary

Background and previous status:

On Friday 13 April the Director General (DG) of the Department of Community Safety (DCS) released policy relating to the new Government's objective of instigating review measures for public sector staffing.  In the Establishment Management Process (EMP), reference was made to positions deemed 'frontline' by nature, with an included list communicating the frontline positions exempted from the nominated (extraordinary) position management process.

Within DCS, the EMP process (for non-exempted positions) requires DG approval for all proposals for HR related activities including:

Requests to advertise;
Requests for expressions of interest;
Requests for new permanent, temporary, casual appointments (through any process including transfer at level, labour hire etc.); or
Requests for approval of a higher duties, relieving at level, external or internal secondment (including new arrangements or the extension of an existing arrangement).

As QFRS Senior Officer positions were not (in this first instance) exempted from the policy, an urgent meeting was sought with the DG.  At the meeting which occurred today Monday 16 April, the SOU argued the case that on the basis of our operational and frontline focus functions, senior officers (as authorised fire officers under the Act) should indeed be on the exemption list. 

After considerable discussion and exchange of views, the DG indicated a level of support for our position, and offered to discuss the matter with the Minister this coming Wednesday 18 April.  If accepted by the Minister, QFRS Senior Officer roles will be added to the exemption list.  The SOU Executive is confident that this will occur.

Further advice will be forthcoming.

Regards

SOU State Executive

CURRENT SOU ACTIVITY AS OF APRIL 2012

This SOU latest news item provides an update on three matters - these being:

1. SOU Support of the Fire Personnel Mental Health Focus Group.
2. New Discussion Forum - Senior Officer Transfer at Level.
3. Enterprise Agreement Preparations.  

Each item is now discussed further in detail.

SOU Support of Fire Personnel Mental Health Focus Group

The SOU, in partnership with the QFRS, UFU and PHD researchers have formed a Mental Health Focus Group.  This group meet to discuss the gathering of statistics from fire personnel within the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) that may assist identification of the early signs of mental health.  Superintendent Lance Duncan is a member of this focus group and represents the SOU.  The SOU values its member’s health and well being and the evaluation of this information has the potential for early intervention and positive flow on effects for our members.  Future steps in support of this initiative will see a survey conducted for the purpose of collecting additional data.

New Discussion Forum - Senior Officer Transfer at Level

The South West Region Branch of the SOU has requested for a discussion forum to be convened on the topic of QFRS Senior Officer transfer at level, thereby assisting in understanding broader SOU member views on this concept.  To contribute, please click here, or alternately access the forum via the SOU Discussion Forum menu link.

Enterprise Agreement Preparations

Considerable time was spent during the recent 2012 SOU State Conference on discussions and preparations associated with the upcoming 2012 Enterprise Agreement process.   In line with decisions taken at the conference a number of SOU members are now researching additional information on over 20 items, in support of the negotiations that are expected to commence shortly.  Please support these members where requests are made for input or advice.

Thank you

SOU State Secretary

THE COWARDICE OF INTERNET DEFAMATION AND SLANDER

The SOU has recently become aware that a number of QFRS employees (including SOU members) have been potentially defamed or slandered through social networking sites including, (and most notably) Facebook.  The SOU outrightly rejects the use of online forums that allow individuals to covertly attack the character of others, without recourse.  In seeking to protect SOU members the SOU has now commenced collecting evidence of this disappointing and personally damaging online activity.

Facebook has an information page on the subject titled 'Think before you post -Just because something is written on Twitter or Facebook does not make it protected from defamation laws'. SOU members and other interested parties are welcome to review the relevant Facebook page at:

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=137675692971666&comments

For those interested in understanding the legal aspects of this issue, an Australian law firm has online information at:

http://www.internetdefamationlawyer.com.au/

In conclusion - SOU members should contact a member of the SOU Executive should you be concerned that your character has been attacked online - as there clearly are legal options that may result in monetary damages being sought.

Thank you

SOU State Executive