Members are hereby instructed to disregard today’s special In Orders 1999/16 concerning the industrial dispute. Accordingly, all members should continue to observe all existing Award conditions, including current rosters, stations and platoons until advised otherwise by the Union.
The bottom line is that the Commissioner has neither the power nor the ability to vary Award conditions unless our Union agrees. In fact, the Award overrides the Fire Brigades Act in law. Continued negotiations with the Department as late as 1800 hours today have failed to see any such agreement reached, meaning that there will be no variation to any existing Award conditions – especially rosters.
The Union originally sought discussions on contingency plans to be used come August 1, hoping we could work with management in order to minimise the disruption to the Brigades but also, and much more importantly, the public we serve. We came openly willing to discuss roster variations and the suspension of various allowances. Regrettably, it seems that not only has our good-will been abused, but the bona-fides of the Department have now also come into question.
The 24 hour rosters proposed for the 55 stations (at last count) outlined in these In Orders will serve no real purpose other than to inconvenience our members and save the Department money. In Orders 1999/16 attaches priority to maintaining a full management structure whilst stripping stations of firefighters, a priority not shared by either your elected officials or the public. Further, the Department today reneged on its initial commitment to recall off-duty SSF staff in order to bolster available staffing levels and open additional stations. The Department’s much vaunted “obligations under the Fire Brigades Act 1989, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1983” etc. clearly has its limits.
There is still a (very small) chance that agreement for roster variations may yet be reached between now and Sunday. However, all members should report to their usual station/platoon until advised otherwise by Union notice. The direction for all non-SSF members to refuse to turn out from Sunday remains firmly in force.
We apologise for the uncertainty of the situation, and appreciate your patience and support. Members may telephone the Union office or their local station, or check for updates on the FBEU website for the latest information on this dispute.