The dispute returned to the IRC today on urgent application by the Union, resulting in Justice Backman making the following four recommendations:
1. That all employees of Fire and Rescue NSW within the coverage of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union of New South Wales immediately cease and refrain from the taking of any industrial action.
2. That all employees of Fire and Rescue NSW within the coverage of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union of New South Wales immediately cease and refrain from authorising, organising, supporting, encouraging or inciting industrial action, including the cessation of any bans, limitations on work or the withdrawal of labour within the period 6 November 2012 to 4 December 2012.
3. That Fire and Rescue NSW suspend its decision of 5 November 2012 to implement TOLing until 4 December 2012.
4. In the meantime, the union is to re-present its draft proposal attached to its covering letter of 31 August 2012 to its members, with a view to urging those members to adopt the proposal contained therein.
The Union’s officials have this afternoon agreed to abide by these recommendations and accordingly, the bans and limitations placed on the performance of outduties and relieving duties last evening are hereby lifted, effective immediately.
For further comment regarding the events of the last twenty-four hours, and today’s IRC proceedings in particular, members are encouraged to read the attached transcript.
This crisis is one of the NSW Government’s making. The cuts to the budget of FRNSW is the driver behind these station closures. But today a different story was told.
Commissioner Mullins told the media at his 1100 press conference the real reasons for the station closures were the unsustainable FRNSW overtime bill, and the Union’s desire to defend it. By rebadging this as an issue of greedy firefighters versus their long-suffering management, Commissioner Mullins has not only let down his firefighters, he’s let the Minister, Mike Gallacher, and the Premier, Barry O’Farrell, off the hook. They are the architects of this situation. Not firefighters.
Further comments were made by Commissioner Mullins regarding firefighters, the Union’s officials and the dispute. I will not be responding to them point by point, apart from rejecting them in their entirety. The Union will not be lowering itself to a tit for tat exchange with Commissioner Mullins, who after all is only a messenger in this dispute with the O’Farrell Government.
Meetings of members will be held over the coming weeks to consider the recommendation of Justice Backman, and to determine the Union’s next steps. More to follow.