Despite repeated requests over the last five weeks, and direct discussions with Commissioner Mullins as late as today, the Department has again refused to answer fundamental questions which go the heart of command and control in the NSWFB and our members’ health and safety.
After receiving not one but two letters from the Department today which said pretty much nothing at all, the Union issued an ultimatum (to quote directly from our letter) “that failure to provide clear and unambiguous written advice by 5pm today as to the minimum rank necessary in order to safely take command of a retained (volunteer) fire brigade will result in industrial action.”
There was no response by 5pm.
Accordingly, all members are hereby instructed that effective on and from 1800 hours today, Wednesday 25 July 2007, no member is to perform any relieving, stand-bys or out-duties. Members are to return to and remain at their base station, save for GSA-based members who are currently relieving out of the GSA, who may remain at their present location. Members are not to change platoons to fill known or unknown absences, and members who act as ‘Z men’ are to remain at their base station on the platoon they are currently working throughout.
The Department will cry foul and moan about how the Union is unfair and unreasonable. I expect they will say a whole lot more than that, too.
But any member who ignores all of that for what it is (ie, noise and hot air) and focuses on what the Union is asking will quickly see how simple yet important a question it is – and how the Department’s refusal to answer represents probably the greatest abrogation of responsibility by NSWFB management in living memory.
Members can find all of the correspondence on this matter between the Union and Department on the Union’s website.
Should a station be reduced to less than its minimum staffing level as a result of these bans, then the station is to remain offline until such time as minimum staffing levels are restored. These bans will remain in place until lifted by way of further notice from the State Secretary.