The Union met with Government representatives this afternoon for what was always going to be a last ditch meeting prior to tomorrow’s IRC proceedings before Justice Boland. However today merely confirmed what we suspected all along – the Government never had any intention of moving from its position of last July. In fact it was made absolutely clear to us this afternoon that they now intend to fight us all the way to stop us getting anything other than their offer.
For the number conscious amongst us, the fact remains that their bogus offer is costed at 3.9% of salaries – 0.8% being paid by FSS firefighters, 2.3% by the Government and the other 0.8% coming from projected “productivity savings” by sacking at least 25 firefighters per year who are currently carried on light duties.
The Union’s position has been costed at 8.6% – 2% being paid by both SASS and FSS firefighters and 2.3% by the Government. The sticking point of this Dispute from our Union’s perspective is therefore the funding for the remaining 4.3%.
The Government has always argued that any new D&D arrangements would be tied to the introduction of compulsory health and fitness testing of all firefighters. The Union believes that productivity gains from the introduction of health and fitness testing would more than cover this gap, as well as providing for additional wage rises. But they arrogantly sneered back at us today to say that health and fitness testing was worth nothing and that they wouldn’t be paying a cent for it!
With the collapse of D&D negotiations, Justice Boland will now teriminate conciliation proceedings tomorrow. The Government has already indicated that it will seek arbitration of the Dispute. The Union’s position will be determined by this Friday’s General Meetings, and the State Committee of Management is meeting tomorrow to make its recommendation(s) to members attending.
The membership of this Union now have one of two choices: to fold and take an inferior offer that will leave literally hundreds of members, both now and into the future, stranded without a job; or to take this bastard Government head on. And that, in a nutshell, is the decision to be made by members this Friday.
It should also be remembered that whilst all of this is going on, the Carr “Labor” Government is now in the process of destroying what little remains of this state’s Workers Compensation system. Whilst this is an issue which affects every worker, it stands to affect firefighters more than most – including SSF members.
It is vital that EVERY off-duty member attends this Friday’s meetings at 10am.