AUXILIARY UPDATE : 25 september 2015

Happy Anniversary! – 3 years since your union made application to the industrial commission for your award!

On 26 September 2012, your union first made formal application to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) for an award for auxiliary firefighters!

The last three years saw UFUQ win auxiliaries your first  award including two hours starts, only to have it legislated to have ‘no effect’.  During the last three years your union has maintained relentless pressure about your award, including numerous legal proceedings and political lobbying.

We have faced formidable opposition, obstruction and deliberate delaying tactics, but your union has never given up in our three year fight to win auxiliary firefighters the respect and coverage of an industrial award.

After three years of fighting for your rights and respect we have provisionally settled our claims with the fire service and expect to deliver auxiliary firefighters the respect of an award from January next year.

Progress on your auxiliary award

Your union has fought by various means over the past three years to win an award for auxiliary firefighters, inclusive of fair employment conditions, such as weekend, nights and public holiday penalty rates, overtime pay, minimum call ins, on- call and retainer allowances.

The interim UFUQ award we won in October 2013, including 2 hours starts, was legislated to have "no effect" one month later.

In 2014 your union secured commitments from both major political parties to support an auxiliary award.

UFUQ, and the fire service have now agreed "in principle" to settle the union’s claims for the terms of an auxiliary award.  The proposed award will still need to be considered by the industrial commission.

The proposed award includes a gradual implementation of improved remuneration and entitlements to phase in community standard employment conditions over the next couple of years.  The full monetary increases will not all be implemented straight away, and will be brought in gradually.  The proposed award does include up front monetary increases from 1 January 2016 though.

If the award is approved by the QIRC, the improved entitlements will be guaranteed.  Unlike the last three years of ongoing litigation and court cases, the next three years will roll out steady increases in auxiliary firefighter remuneration.

The bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!

Your union has now applied to have our auxiliary award application relisted before the industrial commission so that we can make submissions to support the making of the new award.

Award Content

UFUQ has secured agreement from QFES for a new award to commence from 1 January 2016 and for improved employment conditions to be gradually phased in from that date.

Base wage rates.

The proposed minimum award wage rates include the next October 2015 2.2 % increase.

23% loading.

The 23% loading is proposed to become an award entitlement in addition to the base rates for all ordinary hours worked as per the current situation.

Paid training.

Paid training is proposed to continue to be paid at base rates plus the 23 % loading.

Overtime pay.

Overtime pay is proposed for all work performed in excess of 10 hours per day or 38 hours per week.  The new pay rates proposed are time and one half for the first three hours overtime and double time after three hours.

Public holiday pay.

All work performed on a public holiday is proposed to be paid at double time and one half (250%) with a minimum of 4 hours pay for the day.

Late work allowance.

All ordinary hours worked between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Monday to Friday are proposed to be compensated with a late work allowance (initially an additional 5%, increasing to 15%).

Weekend pay.

All ordinary hours worked on weekends are proposed to be paid at higher rates of pay. (An additional 5%, increasing to 150% of the base rate, and eventually double time (200%) for Sunday work).

On call allowance.

The award is proposed to include an "on call" allowance.  This would only apply when an auxiliary firefighter is rostered to respond to each and every call (paid as a minimum $10.35 for each 12 hour period of ‘on call’).

Retention allowance.

An annual retention allowance is proposed to be paid in arrears to eligible auxiliaries who attain an annual qualifying criteria of minimum attendance at training and call outs, (a minimum $350.0 per year with potential for a maximum $1400.0 per year).

Motor vehicle allowance.

The award is proposed to include allowances for occasions where QFES requires an auxiliary to use their own vehicle for fire service work, (0.76c per klm).

Meal breaks and rest pauses.

The award is proposed to include paid meal breaks and rest breaks.

Call-ins.

The award is proposed to include a minimum payment of 2 hours for each call in, provided that any subsequent call in falling within that 2 hour period is part of the previous call in, (as per interim award).

Work on public holidays is proposed at a minimum payment of 4 hours for the day.

Further information about the proposed award

If you require further information about the progress of the proposed auxiliary award, contact your union and arrange a station visit, or phone hook-up on your next training night.

Question asked in parliament about your award

On 16 September 2015, yet another written “question on notice” was asked in parliament about your auxiliary award.

Shane Knuth, KAP member for Dalrymple asked:

“782 MR KNUTH ASKED THE MINISTER FOR POLICE, FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES AND MINISTER FOR CORRECTIVE SERVICES (HON J MILLER) ―

With reference to the answer to Question on Notice No 292 of 2015—

Will the Minister update the House as to whether an industrial award for auxiliary fire fighters has been developed, and if so, when will an award come into operation?”

Hopefully, the question will prompt government to "sign off" on the proposed award settled between your union and the fire service. !! We will report the answer when it comes!

Wage increase

From Sunday 25 October 2015, auxiliary firefighters will receive a 2.2% minimum wage increase.  This is a discretionary "flow on" of the increase awarded to full time staff by QIRC in the UFUQ-QFES arbitration.  Your union has applied to have this increase incorporated into minimum award wage rates.

Presumptive legislation

Auxiliaries will be aware from your union’s ongoing reporting, that our long standing campaign to win improved workers’ compensation protections for firefighters has been successful, with “presumptive laws” passing through Queensland state parliament.

The new laws will make it easier to progress claims arising from certain specified cancers which have been scientifically associated with firefighting.

Although any firefighter who contracts any workplace illness has always been covered by workers’ compensation, the process of proving that certain illnesses were definitely caused by work, and not other possible causes, could cause lengthy litigation, delays and court battles.

The new “presumption” essentially reverses the onus, so that if a firefighter develops certain illnesses, they are assumed to be work related, unless the insurer or employer proves otherwise.

A number of auxiliary firefighters have asked questions at union meetings about the qualifying criteria of incident attendances for volunteer firies contained in the draft Bill which went before a parliamentary committee.

Auxiliaries are not classed as volunteers under the legislation.

The qualifying criteria for volunteers in the draft bill mirrored interstate laws that were designed to address the gap in scientific evidence linking cancers to volunteer firefighting.  The intention was to limit scope for litigation, by including a qualifying number of incidents attendance, so that once that history is shown, volunteers would benefit from a simpler process of a reversed onus.

The qualifying criteria did not affect volunteers’ rights to workers compensation protection, just the process of “presumption”.

The final legislation adopts a different qualifying process to deal with gaps in evidence linking volunteer firefighting to the incidence of cancers.  Instead of a qualifying criteria based upon an arbitrary numerical incident attendance, a process is envisaged where volunteers can demonstrate their particular circumstances to an expert committee.

Although a number of questions have been asked of union officials at union meetings about the volunteers’ qualifying criteria, auxiliaries should note that you are classified as paid part time firefighters under the laws, and will need to have qualifying years of service like all other firefighters and volunteers, to adopt the “presumption”.

As summarised above, there has been slight confusion in the reporting about this issue, which have prompted questions from auxiliary members at meetings.  All firefighters, including auxiliaries and volunteers were previously covered by workers’ compensation protection if they developed cancer from firefighting.  There was no change to that protection by the new laws.  Everyone, was and is still covered.

The new laws will make the processing of claims easier and cut down on litigation, delays and court time.

UFUQ delegates

A number of auxiliary stations have nominated and elected UFUQ auxiliary workplace delegates to represent them and keep them informed in the workplace.  If your station has not nominated or elected a UFUQ auxiliary delegate yet, you can commence the process now, by using the following link:

http://ufuq.com.au/files/8414/4296/6492/Auxiliary_Delegate_Elections_forms.pdf

The process is very simple, members nominate people for election as a delegate for their station, then an election is held and a delegate appointed.  The delegate is appointed for a period of two years.

Station visits

Throughout 2015 many auxiliary stations have been visited, many for the first time.

We encourage you to organise a station visit on the next suitable training night.  Alternatively, a phone or video hook-up can be done with an industrial officer and/or a member of the union executive or state council.

Contact the state office on 1800 816 589 to arrange a visit.

Become a member of UFUQ and show your support

2014 saw many new members join or re-join UFUQ.  We want to continue to increase our strength in 2015.

Become a member of your union to show you are standing with your auxiliary colleagues as we continue the fight to improve your employment conditions and wages.

As a member, you also have access to the many benefits of coverage you will receive from a registered industrial organisation.

If you are already a member of UFUQ, now is the time to discuss membership of your union with your auxiliary colleagues.

Existing members who refer new members will receive a new auxiliary UFUQ t-shirt in 2015, upon the new member becoming financial (one t-shirt per year for existing members).

Your union continues to send a strong and clear message to QFES and the government about your employment conditions.  We are showing them that we have the support of auxiliaries in our efforts to win fair employee conditions for you.

UFUQ needs your support now and will be there to support you should you ever need us!