December 8, 2010

Inside this issue:

  • FBEU supports 1 to 4 staffing ratio
  • Auditor-General goes fully sick
  • Regional Comms selection dispute


FBEU supports 1 to 4 staffing ratio

Last week we reported on the Nurses’ Association campaign for a minimum 1 to 4 nurse to patient ratio. The FBEU understands the importance of safe minimum staffing, not only for our own welfare but also the community’s. The introduction of ratios In Victoria led to greatly improved patient care, and therefore community safety. It was fitting, then, that our members at Warrawong used their Station’s “community notice board” to support the Association’s campaign. For more information see www.one2four.com.au

Auditor-General goes fully sick

Today the Auditor-General released his report on public sector sick leave, prompting the SMH online website to report that the “highest sick leave taken was recorded by the NSW Fire Brigades at 95.3 hours, which is significantly more than the next highest group, Ambulance NSW, at 79.8 hours and Juvenile Justice at 78.6 hours.” Regrettably, the Auditor-General’s report is wrong on just about everything to do with firefighters and the NSWFB. For instance:

  • It is misleading about our sick leave entitlement, ignoring that we work the longest shifts in the sector.
  • the figures used for the NSWFB are inflated because they include carer’s leave, when the report says they do not.
  • It ignores the danger, the increased likelihood of injury and the much higher standards of health and fitness required in firefighting
  • Its selective treatment of data ignores the 13% drop in firefighter sick leave between 2008 and 2009.
  • It completely ignores half the NSWFB workforce – its retained members – who record the lowest levels of sick leave in the entire public sector.

Simply put, the report is so wrong about firefighters that the Auditor-General is either incompetent, or he’s been misled by the Department. We assume the latter, and with our wage negotiations looming, we can’t help thinking it was deliberate.

Regional Comms selection dispute

Like a bad dog that refuses to learn, the Department has responded to its recent defeat in the Country Inspectors dispute (see SITREP 48) by once again attempting to circumvent the Permanent Award’s selection processes – this time in Regional Communication Centres. Subclause 28.6 gives clear priority to applicants stationed within the Regional area who meet the essential criteria, followed by those on the relevant Residential Transfer Register who do so in order of the list. Not so says a Department determined to pit members from different stages against each other in breach of the Award. More to follow.

Matthew Murrary

Acting State Secretary