SITREP No. 23/2011

June 17, 2011

Inside this issue:

  • O’Farrell passes new IR laws, and the fight is on
  • Workplace Standards Bullies?

O’Farrell passes new IR laws, and the fight is on

The O’Farrell Government’s anti-worker IR reforms passed through Parliament this week. As a result, our Awards, our wages and our conditions are all now at risk. Any current award condition can be watered down or struck out at the stroke of a Ministerial pen, requiring only a new regulation.

Already clear is that the 2011 Awards we secured in March would be illegal if they were negotiated today. Why? Because we were able to secure yearly increases of 3% in real terms by bringing forward the date of future increases by four months, and this was done with no cost offsets, no trade offs and no loss of Award conditions. Under O’Farrell’s new laws, the IRC would be forced to reject our new Awards unless we agreed to sell off conditions to pay for the extra $7M that our wage deal cost the Department over and above the Government’s 2.5% per annum policy.

So while we’ve dodged O’Farrell’s most immediate bullet, being the 2.5% wage cap, the threat to our conditions (including our D&D entitlements) looms large. It’s one thing to have the legal right to, for example, abolish allowances – it’s another all together for them to choose to start that fight. The strong turnout of FBEU members at this week’s public sector rallies, and the preparedness of on-shift members to stop work if necessary, will figure in any deliberations this Government has on this.

This will be a long campaign that will take many forms, but without industrial action at its core we will have little chance of success. On that note I must thank those members who answered the Union’s call to stop work on Wednesday. More, much more, to follow.

Workplace Standards Bullies?

The Department’s Workplace Standards Branch (WSB) is writing to members who are scheduled to appear in court on non-work related matters, threatening that they “must, within seven days, advise the Commissioner, in writing, of the facts of the matter giving rise to you being charged”. These members are also being directed to “provide a copy of the Court Attendance Notice or other relevant court documentation” and further, that they “must inform the Commissioner of the outcome of your appearance before the Court”.

Members are reminded that FRNSW Standing Orders clearly state that a member cannot be required to incriminate himself/herself: “if it is intended to obtain a report for the purpose of afterwards using it as evidence against a member, he/she should be told that ‘he/she is not obliged to make a statement that may incriminate himself/herself but that if he/she makes any statement it may be used as evidence’”.

Disturbingly, the WSB letter to members concludes with the threat that “failure to comply with this instruction may result in disciplinary proceedings pursuant to Part 4 Fire Brigades Regulation 2008 being initiated against you”. Making such a threat is itself a breach of the Regulation, via Standing Orders, which states “a member should not be threatened with prosecution for refusing to supply a report intended for use against him/her”. WSB clearly thinks it’s above the rules it expects the rest of FRNSW to abide by.

Members who receive one of these letters or who are verbally questioned on such matters are advised to say nothing, to write nothing and to contact the Union immediately.



Jim Casey

State Secretary

Friday 17 June 2011



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