November 24, 2010

Inside this issue:

  • $100 mill RFS funding increase
  • Bosses wallets explode (again!)
  • In Brief

$100 mill RFS funding increase

In a shameful piece of pre-election pork barreling the Emergency Services Minister, Steve Whan, announced ten days ago that the RFS was to receive an additional $100 million. This is ostensibly in response to the Victorian Royal Commission into the Black Saturday fires. Or is it?

With an election coming up, and with the former RFS Czar, and failed politician, Phil Koperburg retiring, this appears to have more to do with favours for mates and injecting funds into marginal seats than it does with genuine fire service management. Certainly there was zero consultation with the Fire Services Joint Standing Committee over this funding increase – and when I raised this at last week’s FSJSC meeting I was informed that it is none of our business.

It is our business because it goes to heart of staffing and resourcing NSW fire services. There is an important role for volunteer labour in firefighting, but the FBEU has always argued that paid professionals need to be the backbone of our fire services. Expanding the RFS at our expense is not the way forward for either the community or firefighters. A change of government is imminent, and pre-election announcements of this sort can expected to be reviewed by the incoming government. The Union expects that the more questionable aspects of this particular announcement do not escape that scrutiny.

Bosses wallets explode (again!)

On 19 November the Government Gazette reported that the State’s public sector bosses, including NSWFB management, have been granted a 4% pay rise. This decision was made so as to make sure these people didn’t lose parity with the pay rises being achieved in the rest of the public service and in light of the higher than expected surplus forecasts. This being the case, why are front line public sector workers being offered only 2.5%? It’s bad enough that the state government appear determined to cut real wages, but it adds insult to injury that don’t demand the same from their SES mates.

In Brief

  • Today statewide nurses took strike action over nurse to patient ratios. The Nurses Association argue that for the good of both its members and the community the ratio should be 1:4. Hospitals in Victoria operate on this basis, but the out of touch, spin driven Keneally government refuse to concede. Further action is planned as part of the campaign.
  • Today is also ‘Go Home On Time Day’; an Australian Institute initiative trying to tackle the $72bill worth of unpaid overtime worked each year. This problem in part has given rise to the Senior Officers (Un)reasonable hours campaign (see SITREP 46/2010). See www.gohomeontimeday.org.au.
  • Recent media reports have flagged changes to how demerit points will operate in NSW. Of interest to members is the term ‘professional drivers’, who will get extra demerit points. There’s no proposed legislation yet but we will monitor this to see if this includes emergency services workers.
  • The Centenary page on the Union’s website has now been updated and includes the AGM minutes, some photos from the day and the proposed FBEU 25 years Membership Medal design.
Jim Casey
State Secretary