The Department continues to pretend that it has the right to renege on its agreement on LSV staffing. Neither the Department nor the IRC hearing today has provided any answer to this critical question – with the result that the Union’s bans will continue until further notice. The Union cannot and will not accept that the Department can unilaterally walk away from agreements over safety, jobs and conditions. We have sought for months to resolve this dispute without industrial action, yet without action the Department has repeatedly refused to honour its agreement, and has provocatively refused to meet with the Union to resolve the dispute before action commenced.
Today’s IRC proceedings were a mixed bag. The Department sought Dispute Orders against any and all industrial action for three full months. While the Department got its Orders, the Union successfully argued that those Orders should be limited to the bans introduced yesterday rather and for 30 days only. The IRC declined to make the additional Order need to resolve this dispute: that the employer abide by the 2010 LSV staffing agreement.
The Union made it crystal clear that such an Order would result in the immediate lifting of the bans. The IRC’s failure to accept this undertaking, which would have restored the pre-dispute status-quo for both parties, has ensured the dispute continues.
The solution to this dispute is clear, as it always has been. The agreement reached in 2010 regarding the use of light duties firefighters to staff the LSVs must be honoured by the Department. This is a very straightforward, very reasonable demand. I call on Commissioner Greg Mullins, as a fellow firefighter, to take the matter in hand and order his staff and officers to honour their agreement.
The Department escalated this dispute overnight by taking permanent stations offline rather than recalling staff to maintain safe and effective minimum crewing. Management has further attempted to undermine safe minimum crewing by leaning on stations to respond with as few as two firefighters. While both actions clearly compromise both firefighter and public safety, an Assistant Commissioner today gave evidence in the IRC that the closure of 25 stations across Sydney is not a threat to public safety, and that running with less than SO&3 on an appliance does not compromise firefighter safety.
Against the background of the Department’s provocative actions, the suggestion that the Union should call off our action without management’s commitment to honour its agreements, is unreasonable and absurd. “Preservation of the status quo” in this dispute is the Department honouring its commitments. Should the Commissioner order the Department to do so, the bans will be lifted. Until that time, action will continue.
Accordingly, all members are hereby instructed that the bans introduced yesterday remain in force and further, that:
no member is to leave their station on any appliance, for any reason, unless that appliance has its safe and effective minimum crewing present and available (for pumpers, no less than S/O&3).
no senior officer member (ie, Inspector, Superintendent or Chief Superintendent) is to ride on any pumper or specialist appliance.