June 14, 2013

first-aidInside this issue:

  • Mullins on MFR: don’t expect to be paid
  • A new Drug and Alcohol Protocol? Update #4

Mullins on MFR: don’t expect to be paid

As some members would know from first hand experience, Commissioner Mullins has been running station forums on the question Medical First Responder (MFR). And the news ain’t good. For many years the Commissioner has argued that MFR was the last great chance for wage rises for firefighters. Apparently that is no longer the case. Now it appears we should prepare to do it for free. Certainly his opinion of the State Committee’s proposed 12.5% wage increase is that it is “just not attainable” and further, that the 12.5% claim is really just “the Union saying no”.

But, money aside, management is moving ahead on a proposed (unpaid) trial using the MFR model from Melbourne’s MFB as a template (for more details see the Union’s Members’ Forum), but with some significant differences. These apparently include no ability to opt out, and probably less training for us than that provided to MFB firefighters. Single pump response to AFAs will also be necessary, according to Mr Mullins, to allow what’s left of the post-TOLing FRNSW to handle the extra calls.

The Union’s State Committee is supporting the performance of MFR, but only if (1) we are properly paid for it and (2) we can agree on all of the details. A 12.5% increase is a reasonable claim and one that, if adopted by the June SGM, will be vigorously pursued – with or without Mr Mullins’ support.

If we fail to act now, the Department will have us all doing MFR for free.

The SGM to vote on MFR begins next Friday, 21 June – the first anniversary of our general strike in defence of our workers comp rights. That was also thought to be unattainable. Until we won it.

A new Drug and Alcohol Protocol? Update #4

Further to SITREP 23/13, this dispute returned to the IRC today following constructive negotiations and much progress. The outstanding issues can be broadly summarised (in no particular order) as:

• whether the permissible alcohol level is a universal 0.02 (the FRNSW position), or 0.02 only for drivers of heavy vehicles and 0.05 for all other staff (the FBEU’s position);

• whether testing is conducted by external contractors (FRNSW), or on-shift senior officers (FBEU);

• whether the policy and procedures apply only to FRNSW CFU volunteers (FRNSW), or to SES, VRA and RFS volunteers as well (FBEU);

• whether staff are required to declare the taking of prescribed medications prior to testing (FRNSW), or only voluntarily and then only after recording a “non-negative” result (FBEU);

• whether all “non-negative” results will be automatically referred for laboratory analysis (FRNSW), or laboratory analysis only occurs at the member’s request (FBEU); and

• whether the Commissioner should be allowed to grant exemptions for the consumption of alcohol at work or whilst in uniform (FRNSW), or not (FBEU).

So negotiations continue. To read the full Policy click here and to read the full Procedures document click here. The agreed Union amendments are shown in green type and the unresolved points are shown in red. I again encourage all members to consider and comment on both documents.

Jim Casey
State Secretary