The Commissioner has today again written to firefighters concerning the Dispute. He has completely misrepresented both their position and ours – here’s why:
He says of the Government’s PPI offer, “a lump sum will be paid if a firefighter is unable to perform NSW Fire Brigades duties”. Wrong! What happens to the firefighter who is deemed to have only a 0% to 15% “potential loss of earning capacity”? The answer is that they get nothing.
Remember that the “potential loss of earning capacity” is not connected to the level of your injuries, but rather the sort of future employment prospects which they believe you might have after they’ve thrown you out of the Brigades. And remember, too, that this “offer” of theirs is for permanent injuries which you’ve sustained on the job.
What point is he trying to make about 24/7 cover? We agree that it has been costed at 2.6%. We’ve also said that we will agree to pay that whole amount, so it won’t cost the Government or the Commissioner’s precious “stakeholders” a single cent. Here we are agreeing to take the 24/7 component of their offer without amendment, and to pay 100% of the cost of that cover ourselves. All of that being said, can we have it please, Ian? This is surely now a non-issue.
And what is he talking about when he says “the Union’s claim is clearly outside the negotiations between the parties to date…”? Let me make this 100% clear, Ian. We wanted equity with SSF 4 years ago, we wanted it 2 years ago, we wanted it 2 months ago and we still want it now. If there’s one thing that we’ve been entirely consistent throughout this dispute, it has been our demand for parity with SSF benefits for on-duty death and injury benefits.
Far from “extending its claim for enhanced benefits”, our Union has in fact continued to modify our claim in the hope that we might yet reach an agreed outcome. Indeed, the only real modification of our claim in recent times has been to accept their offer for 24/7 cover. We did, however, tie this to a refusal to pay anything towards on-duty cover. And why should we, because on-duty deaths and injuries are clearly their responsibility. Their “co-contribution” approach to on-duty cover is akin to them saying that you can have a $15 meal allowance, but only if you pay the first $5 of it yourself! It’s not on.
And finally, health and fitness testing. Yes, we did previously offer our “in-principle acceptance of health and fitness testing for firefighters”, but that was before they quite stupidly came out and said that it wasn’t worth a cent. We maintain that “in-principle” acceptance, but the fact is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of benefits payable to firefighters who have been killed or injured. If they want it then we’ll talk about it, but not as part of the D&D issue. They’ll also want to bring a large sack of with them to the health and fitness negotiating table, because it won’t be coming cheaply!
Last Friday we put a very reasonable and conciliatory position to them. We also asked for a response and a meeting with them by today. They refused to do either, and instead listed a hearing for 2pm today in the IRC to enforce the dispute orders against us. Nice one, Ian. You didn’t put that in your notice, did you? STAY UNITED!