Your rights at work campaign

June 9, 2005

The Howard Government is about to launch an unprecedented attack upon the wages and conditions of all workers, including firefighters. The FBEU, in co-operation with interstate branches of the United Firefighters Union of Australia, the ACTU and Unions NSW is mounting a political and industrial campaign to protect ‘Your Rights at Work’, now and into the future. Like kids in a lolly shop, the Howard Government’s control of both houses of Parliament from July/August will see the big end of town gorge themselves on our wages and conditions while our families have their hands slapped away, Oliver Twist like, whenever we dare to ask for more of a fair portion of the productivity cake to which we’re entitled.

‘Power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely’

Don’t think that firefighters are immune to this evil because our guest speakers from New Zealand will recount their experiences of the demolition job done on New Zealand firefighters during the mid-1990’s, when mass sackings and the employment of casuals led the way for so-called “industrial reform”. The right to collectively bargain through unions will become a thing of the past as firefighters are forced onto Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA’s) and are pit one against the other, or against inferior scab labour in a wages and conditions discount war.

The current policy of the Howard Government is to reduce Awards to only 16 Allowable Matters (clauses). By comparison our current Retained Award has 33 clauses and the Permanent Award a full 49. Their shadowy, behind the scenes backers such as the Business Council of Australia wants the ceiling reduced to just 5 or 6 clauses/matters – this from the group who for 40 CEO’s paid themselves $4.3 million dollars each, or $166,346 per fortnight. Your Award will become a single foolscap piece of paper covering only the most basic of conditions, not to mention the destruction of the Death and Disability Award for which FBEU members fought to win over a 5 to 6 year struggle.

The following statements give an indication of the mindset we’re up against:

“We should be trying to move to an industrial relations system where the predominant instrument is the individual contract,…and where there’s ease of entry, ease of exit..”
Peter Costello, Federal Treasurer

“People try to use industrial relations policy as a tool to achieve not only productivity and growth in the economy but fairness, and that’s a fundamental flaw.”

Michael Chaney, Business Council of Australia

“An emphasis on fairness only leads to regulatory excess and inefficiency”
Kevin Andrews, Federal Minister for Workplace Relations

If you value your job and care about the future of your family and friends then you’ll  attend this important SGM. The Union is hoping to film the guest speakers at the Sydney SGM and to make that video available for the other Sub-Branch meetings, but if you can make the first meeting than do so because nothing beats being there in person. STAY UNITED!

Craig Harris
State Secretary                        
Thursday, 9 June, 2005



Recent news: