The Commissioner yesterday issued his own version of events as to what occurred in the IRC this week. It’s one thing to put on a brave face, but it’s another thing to mislead. The Government took us to the IRC this week because they wanted to get Dispute Orders against us, and there is little doubt that they would have seen us fined if they were successful in their application. They failed.
AFAs? On Tuesday Assistant Commissioner John Anderson gave this evidence:
“It is correct that during the course of previous industrial disputes the administrative bans imposed by the FBEU included a ban on members of the FBEU entering necessary data into the computer to effect the connection of AFAs. Because data entry is now effected by administrative personnel there was no reason to assume that the administrative bans imposed by the FBEU on 27 August 1999 would affect the connection of new AFAs. Indeed, the reason why AFAs have not been connected to the NSW Fire Brigades monitoring system during this dispute is not because members have been failing to carry out part of their duties but because they have refused to allow the technicians access to the appropriate equipment in fire stations.”
So the non-connection of AFAs was not due to our admin. bans at all, but because our members were allegedly stopping the technicians from doing their job. This was utter garbage. On cross-examination, Assistant Commissioner Anderson admitted there was no ban from the Union stopping technicians connecting new installations. At this stage we could almost hear them thinking “oops!”.
It’s hard to lift bans when they don’t exist. But it’s also easy to give something away when you don’t have it to give, which I suppose makes the four exemptions we gave to the Minister on Saturday all the more amusing! As for the lifting of the August 27 bans to not reset installations etc., let’s be honest. These (previously untried) AFA bans really had little impact other than to cause confusion amongst our members, so we removed them. All other Union bans remain in force.
Who really won this week? Members can draw their own conclusion. What were they after? Orders to remove all Union bans and if necessary, fines. What did they get? The removal of a ban we didn’t have, and the lifting of another ban on resetting alarms which, frankly, was having little impact anyway.
The Commissioner says “it’s time to negotiate”. OK, let’s start with your promises from Nov ’97:
“The fundamental principle relating to the development of the new superannuation scheme is recognised as being one of equity and it is not envisaged that there will be any diminution of benefits already applying to firefighters covered by other schemes. Whilst I cannot give an unfettered assurance that the scheme will be developed “no later than 31 August 1998″, I suggest that we both do our best to conclude it by that date . . . . .”
Someone had a bad day in court – and it wasn’t us. Chris Read,