Contrary to rumour, the Union has not agreed to the select calling of retained appliances at mixed stations. Members who believe select calling may already be occurring should notify the Union immediately, as Clause 27 of the Retained Award requires the Department consult with the Union over “any proposal by the Department which will result in, or is likely to result in, a substantial and ongoing reduction in the work collectively available to a [retained] brigade’s employees” and no such consultation has taken place.
Retained members should be aware that Zone and Area management do not have a free hand to do as they please. Clause 27 means they must consult the Union before implementing any change that may reduce your brigade’s work, and the Union can and in most cases will refer the matter to the Industrial Relations Commission for determination if the proposed change is not agreed.
The Department this week emailed all staff advising that “the Australia and New Zealand School of Government is currently assisting in making recommendations to Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) on how to proceed with the development and implementation of an Emergency First Responder program”, and inviting all to participate in a survey “that seeks your views and input on the proposed program”. The email did not mention this, but the Union met with these consultants several weeks ago and fully appraised them of the Union’s policy on, and concerns around, MFR.
While the Union questions the need for a survey of this kind (we’ve already conducted an extended internal debate and democratic vote by members on the question), we also have no objection to members participating. Our only advice to those who do so would be to remember to press the need for additional remuneration before we could ever consider taking on this plainly additional work.
Turnbull Govt turns on firies
The newly re-elected Turnbull Government has wasted no time in making good on its pre-election threat to legislate to block an Enterprise Agreement (EA) between the UFUA’s Victoria Branch and the Country Fire Authority (see “Victoria CFA dispute” in SITREP 20/16). Employment Minister Michaela Cash this week confirmed the Government’s intention to amend the Fair Work Act so that federal EAs can no longer include terms that “restrict or diminish emergency management bodies’ ability to actually deal with emergencies”. What this might mean in practice remains unclear. Thankfully the FBEU and our Awards operate under the NSW Industrial Relations Act, not the Fair Work Act, but this is nevertheless a disturbing development for all emergency services workers that we will be following closely.
The Union’s Sydney office has relocated to the ground floor of our Surry Hills building, having leased level 1 to an external tenant as part of the State Committee’s wider strategy for revenue diversification and improved financial management. All of our contact details remain unchanged.
President and Acting State Secretary
For a printable version of this SITREP, please click here.