Members will no doubt have noted recent reports of concerns about the new personal protective clothing (PPC) being rolled out across FRNSW in a $17M program to replace our current gear, which no longer meets the standards required by our Awards. The Union has not until now attempted to make political or industrial mileage out of this emerging controversy, and has only responded to media inquiries about member concerns after we were approached.
The attached correspondence between the Union and Department sets out the position of both parties clearly enough. The inescapable fact is that the new gear should not have been rolled out before the corresponding light-weight duty wear was also available. The Department has this week half admitted this to be the case by urgently ordering thousands of pairs of new light-weight trousers, but then half denied it as well by refusing to order the withdrawal of the new gear from service pending the supply of the new duty wear. The double standard goes further – whilst the Department assures the Union that the new uniforms “offer better protection than the current PPC”, it has also stopped issuing the new ensemble. They can’t have it both ways.
Beyond the issue of duty wear is the plainly serious issue of apparent PPC malfunction on the fireground. The Department takes comfort that 96% of the new uniforms already issued passed the so-called “zipper test”. The Union is horrified that an unacceptably high 4% did not.
The Union is now advising (but not instructing) all members to cease wearing the new PPC and to revert to using the “old” gear until further notice. Any member who does not wish to wear the new gear and who, for whatever reason, no longer has the “old” gear is to remain on duty but not respond.
2012 AGM reminder
The Union’s 102nd Annual General Meeting will be held next Thursday, 1000hrs at the Union Office, 1-7 Belmore St, Surry Hills. There have been no requests for ancilliary Sub-Branch meetings to be convened, reflecting in part the fact that the last Special General Meeting was held so recently, and that there is the very real prospect that another SGM will be required this year due to FRNSW cost cutting measures.
Consequently there will be no local Sub-Branch meetings to consider the AGM agenda and I am withdrawing the motion regarding Meals and Refreshments. This question will now be presented at a subsequent SGM in order to allow all members the opportunity to vote upon it.
In brief …
The Department is expected to reveal its cost cutting reforms by next Wednesday 17 October, when the TOLing dispute returns to the Industrial Relations Commission.
The O’Farrell Government was forced to extend its deadline for public comment on emergency services funding until 31 October following heightened public interest due to the Union’s campaign.