The long-overdue Foul and Nauseous Allowance has finally hit the pay packets of workers in our Parks and Wildlife Service! Thanks to all the members and delegates for their efforts to push the Agency to lock-in this win.
This allowance recognises the work PWS staff do to protect our pristine environment. The work this allowance reflects is not pretty… but essential to manage visitor impacts.
About the Foul & Nauseous Allowance: This allowance is for Field Officers or Rangers classified at Band 5 or below within the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania, who is required to come into contact with uncontained sewage. They are to be paid an allowance of $700 pro-rata per annum, to be paid fortnightly.
Why Rangers and Field Officers deserve a Foul & Nauseous Allowance (Don’t read on a full stomach or over lunch!):
- They come into contact with uncontained waste.
- Visitors in nature hear the call of nature – and it has to go somewhere!
- On tracks like the Overland and Three Capes and many popular campsites – this means a drop toilet.
- Of course, our beautiful wilderness areas need to be kept that way, so human waste needs to be managed!
- On the Overland Track there are several “vintage” composting toilets (never a word you want to hear used to describe a loo) remaining, which require… close personal attention. PWS rangers open up large cages of waste a couple of times a week and rake the ‘poo piles’ (a technical term used by parks workers) flat to ensure maximum capacity. Overland Track Rangers also hand-pump black water from buried sumps into fly-out sputniks multiple times a week. You don’t want to know what any of those words mean.
- Contemporary toilet designs involve waste dropping straight down a chute into fly out sputniks. The chutes require regular scrubbing, and some care is required to avoid spattering untreated human waste all over the place.
- Moving and flying the sputniks out involves coming into close contact with contaminated surfaces and rigging gear. By the end of a long day of helicopter operations, when Overland track rangers work on the ground moving and rigging sputniks to be flown out, rangers effectively become walking biohazards. Track rangers are issued and typically carry two uniform shirts for the duration of 8-day shifts. There are no shower or laundry facilities on track. At the end of a long day flying out toilet waste, rangers soak their uniforms in boiling water in an attempt to sterilise them.
- Parks and Wildlife Service workers in remote locations are often the only person rostered on to keep these toilet facilities clean and in working order.
- Visitors can accidentally “miss” or experience a bout of gastro. PWS workers pick up the pieces. Sometimes literally.
- Many PWS workers have Hepatitis A and B vaccinations on their statement of duties, in recognition that they come into contact with uncontained biohazardous waste.
- Toilet cleaning is a core part of remote area track-based work. Rangers and Field Officers who are based at field centres often spend their summers cleaning road-accessed campsite toilets, which are often drop toilets. Remote area workers also generally love and value the work they do! However, working in these roles, workers can feel “out of sight, out of mind,” with poor recognition and respect for the reality of work from the department and the public.
Recognition and compensation for the inglorious aspects of this work goes a long way to supporting the wellbeing of our Rangers and Field Officers across these many tracks, field centres and remote locations. It also supports the sustainability of these roles, which often take people away from home, friends and family for extended periods, in service to our environment and the public.
So yes, absolutely Field Officers and Rangers deserve this allowance – it’s hard earned and another way of recognising the work they do to protect the state’s environment.
Know your rights: Not receiving the Foul and Nauseous Allowance?
Are you a Ranger or Field Officer who hasn’t received this allowance when you believe you should? Often there are teething issues with new allowances – that’s why your union is here – to make sure those who should be receiving an allowance do receive it. Get in touch – at CPSUDirect@tas.cpsu.com.au, or online at https://www.cpsu.com.au/cpsudirect/ or on 6234 1708.
In union we can improve and build on rights, voice, and pay of public sector workers year-on-year.
Ask your colleague to join. Employers, including the Tasmanian government don’t always do what is fair or right – people need to work together to make it happen. And the best way to do this is in union.