Our Union met again last week with representatives from the NSW Premier’s Department and the Fire Brigades to continue firefighter death and disability (D&D) negotiations. In short there was no progress made at that, our 3rd meeting.
We did however learn that:
The Government is attempting bundle the D&D issue into the next Award negotiations (our current Award expires August 8 1999).
If any offer is to be made to us before the commencement of industrial action in August, it will only come very late this month;
If and when this offer finally does arrive, it will almost certainly not meet our fundamental requirement for equity with no-disadvantage.
The Union has categorically rejected these approaches.
An obvious concern is the fact that Award negotiations have not even commenced. When these negotiations finally do get underway, it is expected that they will take many weeks (if not months) to complete. It follows that if the Government is hoping to connect a D&D settlement with a broader Award package, then they clearly have no intention of meeting the July 31 date for the completion of negotiations – a date originally set by them, not us.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Government does not intend to meet our requirements by month’s end, a view supported by the fact that the Department has commenced making contingency plans for an August strike. We will continue to seek a negotiated settlement over the next 4 weeks, but we will not step back from our campaign – nor our deadline of July 31.
The next meeting with Premier’s is to be held Wednesday, July 14. An emergency meeting of the Union’s State Committee of Management is set to follow on Friday July 16, with the very real possibility of wide-ranging bans being introduced from that date if these negotiations continue to go nowhere. A full report on the progress of this dispute will be delivered to members at the July 23 Special General Meeting (agenda to follow separately tomorrow). Stay United!