500 Firefighters’ Jobs In The Balance

April 3, 2001

Last week, during negotiations over the D&D dispute the Department confirmed that in the first stages of their proposal for a mandatory health and fitness standard approximately 500 permanent firefighters will “move through the system”. When pressed on what that term meant they shuffled and squirmed but were unable to rule out that this was merely a management term for “be sacked.

Put bluntly, they are saying that one in every six permanent members is slated to lose their career and their future. This is not a notice designed simply to get your attention nor is it a scare campaign. Having said so, the Department will now pull out all stops to paint their unfortunately honest slip as a case of the Union inciting the membership. Thanks to the Department we haven’t had to consider that, preferring to rely on the reality of their own projections.

Look around you and know that the Department’s plans are aimed most certainly at your workmates and quite possibly – you. What this means for retained firefighters, we simply don’t know. We don’t know because the Department hasn’t said – or, as it seems, doesn’t know themselves. So what do we know?

Know that the Government has this week posted it’s final position on D&D. Know that their ‘final’ position reflects an offer that steals back any and all concessions given over the lengthy period we have wasted negotiating or, in any way, dealing with these charlatans. Know that they have also stripped away the only attractive part of their initial offer, that being, an offer of lifetime pensions. Know that their whole offer is based on the state’s ailing and ever diminishing Workers Comp laws.

Most of all, know that the Government would rather commit themselves to an unprecedented period of industrial disputation than negotiate on a scheme that costs 3-4 % more than they are prepared to give. Know that the MP’s superannuation costs 58.6% – a mere 55% more than we are asking for. And know that they have not raised their level of contribution since the first day of negotiation. Know that their ‘final’ position is inferior to their first, and that they’ve declared an end to the truce.

On Friday, we are back in the Industrial Relations Commission for what will almost certainly be the formal termination of the conciliation process. That leaves us without any result on D&D and, if the workers ‘friends’ in the ALP have their way, no worthwhile fall back in Workers Compensation (see today’s separate notice).

Throughout this dispute we have shown considerable patience. We have explored every possible process to bring about a negotiated resolution. Negotiation, in this case, simply has not worked. What is now clear is that, come Friday, we will explore our remaining options and implement those options in a manner designed to create the maximum effect on the Government. According to the Department’s estimates, 500 members’ jobs are at risk if we lose. Above all, know that!

Darryl Snow



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