Change ripped through the senior levels of management today, with news that a new Deputy Commissioner of Corporate Services and Governance has been appointed. Her name is Rosemary Milkins, a seasoned NSW bureaucrat who was most recently with the Department of Premier and Cabinet. The Union understands that her primary brief is to address questions of workplace culture in the Brigades. The new Deputy Commissioner takes on a much expanded role with responsibility for Finance, Corporate Strategy, Human Resources, Learning and Development, Community Safety and IT.
Curiously, it seems that Deputy Commissioner Milkins will be reporting directly to the Office of the Premier as well as to Commissioner Mullins. And it appears she will not be arriving alone, with Messrs Ken Barker and Ian Oldmeadow also set to parachute into the NSWFB. Barker is a long- term finance manager from the Department of Health which might prove handy seeing that Oldmeadow, an industrial gun for hire to employers, reportedly charged the Bracks Govt $2,800 a day to take on the Victorian public sector unions. Google ‘Ian Oldmeadow’ and see what spits out.
What does this mean for Firefighters?
The replacement of a Senior Officer with a civilian is one thing. Does it really matter? The boss is the boss, regardless of whether they started out as a firefighter or started out as a clerk. By the time they reach the Senior Executive Service they are paid, and paid handsomely, to ensure we are as productive, inexpensive and compliant as possible.
But in the context of the current media scrutiny of the Brigades, and of the specific brief Deputy Commissioner Milkins has to change the Brigades’ culture, it does appear more worrying. What is the “culture” these people seek to change? Is it the isolated cases of abuse from over 20 years ago that tabloid screamers like the Sunday Telegraph have been getting excited about? Or is it the culture of an industrially strong, well-organised workforce that exercises remarkable collective control over our conditions of work?
Time will tell, but early signs are not encouraging. The Union has still not been paid the courtesy of even a quick call to inform us of this radical management shake up. If it weren’t for the Senior Officers who tipped me off today we would not have known at all. If this is indicative of the way ahead then we may be in for a bumpy ride.