Last Friday, September 24 the Union’s State Committee of Management met to consider the progress of the D&D dispute. The latest Government offer was received during the course of our meeting. Unfortunately, it was nothing more than a re-formatted version of the same offer previously rejected by the State Committee and rank and file members. As such, we have rejected that offer too.
It is now clear that the most appropriate and logical way to resolve this dispute is for the Government to honour its 1997 Permanent Award commitment (Clause 5.2.4) to develop a new superannuation scheme for firefighters. With the expiration of the 1997 Award last month, a new Award must now be negotiated.
The State Committee believes that a suitable commitment to develop and implement a new superannuation scheme within 12 months of the making of the new Award could now be the way forward. Of course, this would really only put the dispute on hold, because the Government’s recent form on Award commitments means that we could very well find ourselves back where we presently are in 12 months’ time. Suffice to say, if necessary we believe that we could deal with that situation if and when it arose. At any rate, the first challenge for the Union is to get the Government to agree (again!) to such a scheme.
The fact is that the Government made a commitment in that last Award that it has not kept and your elected officials do not intend to let them off the hook. Our Award may have expired, but our claim for equity in D&D benefits certainly has not. Given that we are now demanding a new commitment in a new Award – along with a decent bloody wage rise – the Government should not be expecting this dispute to simply fade away.
This dispute, which has so far cost the Government over $2M in overtime alone, heads back to court next Wednesday October 6. It’s possible that the Government will seek to fine us (or maybe worse) during the course of those proceedings. Rest assured that we’re fully prepared for that development if it arises – but are they?
Separate notices detailing the escalation, clarification and/or variation of the current bans will follow shortly, as will a notice and agenda for a further Special General Meeting of members to be held October 13. Stay tuned, and Stay United!