June 4, 2010

Inside this issue:

  • Incident Ground Health Monitoring
  • The cameras are rolling, but the stations are offline
  • UFUA – time to go
  • In brief

Incident Ground Health Monitoring update

 In SITREP 18/2010 the Union instructed that mandatory IGHM was banned and advised members not to participate in the monitoring. We gave this advice because IGHM is ill conceived and invades members’ privacy without delivering real benefits for members’ health and safety.

It does nothing more than randomly select members at a limited number of incidents and subjects those members to a fitness for duty test in order to return to work. It is random health and fitness testing on the cheap, nothing more and nothing less.

Also of concern is the position it places Inspectors, Station Officers and Captains in. Whilst IGHM is automatic for third alarms, its use is at the discretion of the IC at other times. What happens when there is a sudden incapacity on a fire ground where IGHM was not requested? Does any officer want to be in this position? The only solution is for IGHM to be requested at every incident, no matter how small, but you won’t find this in the Department’s In Order.

There is an alternative – a confidential Health and Wellness Program that allows all members to improve their health and well being, whilst staying in control of their own health outcomes. This is what the Union has proposed and is continuing negotiations with the Department with the assistance of the Industrial Relations Commission.

In the interim IGHM is not banned. We simply draw members’ attention to the Department’s In Order, which permits members to decline to be tested, and repeat our advice in SITREP 18/2010 that “members may (and we advise should) refuse to undergo IGHM and to contact the Union immediately if directed to do so”.

 The cameras are rolling, but the station is offline…

The Department is often asked to participate in various film projects. In the past, members have been recalled in on overtime and a spare appliance has been used, rather than take a station offline. The Union has now been told that a station has been taken offline and the on-shift crew directed to act as extras in a TV drama. This is not on. Stations should never go offline for this purpose and participation by members in film projects should be on a voluntary basis. Any member who is stood over to participate in such projects against their will should contact the Union office immediately.

For those projects that do not require operational firefighting footage, members are encouraged not to participate in support of our comrades at the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance. Let them do their job, and we will do ours – we’re firefighters, not actors.

 UFUA – time to go

 Members would be aware of the April Special General Meeting decision to cease financially supporting the United Firefighters Union of Australia (UFUA), NSW Branch. The Union’s officials have this week reviewed the situation and now recommend that all FBEU members should resign from the failed organisation that is the UFUA. Resignation forms can be obtained from your SCOM official, the Union Office, or download a copy here.

 This week’s resolution reads as follows:

 “That the:

  • State Secretary’s report on the failed mediation between the Union and the UFUA’s National Officers in attempted settlement of Federal Court proceedings brought against the Union’s officials by the UFUA in December 2009; and
  • the previous resolution of a Special General Meeting of members to cease the forwarding of any funds to the UFUA’s NSW Branch by 30 June 2010; and
  • the recent adoption of Rule amendments to excise any and all reference to the UFUA from the Union’s Rules; and
  • the UFUA’s turbulent history, paucity of achievement and disturbingly wayward direction, including its recent stripping of NSW Branch voting rights whilst seeking to increase Branch capitation fees by 150%;

be received and noted and that in consideration of same, and this meeting’s conclusion that the UFUA remains incapable of much-needed reform, this meeting:

  • declares the UFUA to be a failed, self-serving organisation that has achieved little if any practical benefit for Australia’s rank and file firefighters;
  • recommends that members who still hold membership of  UFUA’s NSW Branch should resign their UFUA membership; and
  • resolves to continue to build effective links between the FBEU and other unions and organisations in the interests of firefighters and working people more broadly, both nationally and internationally.”

 On that last point, it is intended that the money that the FBEU previously forwarded to the UFUA will be redirected towards assisting Australian firefighters. The State Committee is considering how best to do this, but one possibility is the employment of a National Research Officer to investigate and respond to issues in our industry. More to follow.

 In Brief

  •  Following discussions this week the Union and Department agreed to the establishment of the Workplace Standards Unit. Negotiations will continue next week as to the role and composition of the Unit as well as proposals for improved grievance and complaints procedures.
  • As part of the Waratah settlement (SITREP 8/2010) Holmesville Fire Station will be staffed with SO and 3 on the 10/14 roster by the end of the month.
  • See the CFMEU’s campaign supporting the proposed mining tax.


 Jim Casey

State Secretary