O’Farrell attacks firefighter wages and conditions

O’Farrell attacks our wages and conditions: WorkChoices NSW-style is here

Hands up who voted Liberal?

This week the full detail of the O’Farrell Government’s draconian industrial laws became available when the legislation was tabled in Parliament. The legislation goes much further than first thought. We already knew that under it the IRC is forbidden from awarding pay increases of more than 2.5%, and expressly prevented from awarding pay increases on the basis of work value or productivity. The IRC won’t be the independent arbitrator any longer – it will be the rubber stamp for any policy changes the Government might make to the wages and conditions of public sector employees. Any increase over 2.5% must come from ‘employee related cost savings’ – cutting Award conditions or jobs. The IRC would also be forbidden to vary any Award –even if they found the variation was for ‘fair and reasonable conditions of employment for employees’- if the cost is over 2.5%.

The last week has seen a spate of news media characterising NSW public sector workers as overpaid, mollycoddled, and a drain on the state’s economy. This suggests that O’Farrell’s government know they will have a fight on their hands and are preparing the ground for that in the community. O’Farrell has no reason to back down after his massive election win.

We have granted ourselves some breathing space by settling the 2011 Award before the election. That Award would not be possible to negotiate now. But we’re not safe – like all public sector workers our Award is no longer the legal protection it once was.

While there is a slim chance that the Shooters and Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats may block the passage of this legislation, the more likely outcome is that next week we will be facing a new industrial relations environment in which NSW public sector workers will be the only workers in the country who will not have recourse to a court if in dispute.

The IRC has often been called a bosses court, and has not always been kind to the FBEU. But by reducing its power we will be facing the employer directly, with no legal protection. – Jim Casey, State Secretary, FBEU.


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About Darin Sullivan (1980 Articles)
Former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (2009-2018) and a professional firefighter with more than 30 years experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a former Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.

1 Comment on O’Farrell attacks firefighter wages and conditions

  1. Rally the troops, IT is ON!


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