In a letter to the Union this Wednesday, the Department laid all blame for the failed award negotiations at our feet and warned us “of the possible ramifications of pursuing a Special Case, including the lengthy delays that this will incur in achieving pay increases for Firefighters.”
The Department further threatened that its previous 4% + 3% offer had been withdrawn and that its new position “will, by necessity, revert at most to the Government’s position of 3% + 3% when the Special case is eventually heard by the IRC”.
Put simply, the Department has wiped its hands of all responsibility, abandoned its earlier agreement to retrospective payment of the first 2004 award increases, and snatched away what few dollars it had already put on the table.
This, regrettably, is our return for 8 months of detailed negotiations conducted in the very non-FBEU environment of industrial peace.
The Union yesterday responded with a common-sense proposal to vary the current awards to reflect an “interim” 4% increase payable from 5 March 2004 in the case of permanent members, and 1 April 2004 in the case of retained members. This would allow both parties to carry on without the threat of disputation or bans pending a final arbitrated outcome from the IRC (which could 6 or more months to be heard, and 12 or more months for a decision).
As the Union wrote to Commissioner Mullins today, “there is no good or proper reason why the Department should not be agreeable to this arrangement, save for sheer bastardry on the part of the Brigades and/or Government. Needless to say, it would be naïve to hope that the Union’s State Committee would sit by idly whilst the employer attempted to exploit delays in the arbitration process as some sort of leverage against the Union.”
That letter concluded with a request from the State Committee (which met today) that the Department respond by 5pm. Your employer instead opted for stony silence.
The Department is threatening each and every permanent member with the loss of over $2,000 (being the foregone 4% over the coming year), as well as the superannuation outcomes of every former member who recently-retired in good faith
In response to the Department’s provocations, the Union’s State Committee this afternoon resolved to impose statewide administrative bans across all sections of the Union’s membership. All members are therefore instructed that as of midnight tonight, 30 April, no paperwork or administrative duties are to be undertaken (including fire reports, BRIMS, PIP’s, CARS, FANS, etc.) other than for firefighter pay or leave related matters.
This instruction shall remain in force until advised otherwise by way of further notice from the Union.