Barry, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. It is noted you have chosen the latter !

My daughter and I take on NSW Treasurer during firefigher wages dispute

Remember this campaign from 2008, it’s only 3 years later, new Govt, and the same problems are happening all over again.

Barry, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. It is noted you have chosen the latter !

From 2008
The Costa living in New South Wales:

Shafting firefighters while pocketing handy $13,400 pay increase, the NSW Treasurer should be ashamed of himself.

You’d think that after giving themselves a generous pay increase of 6.7% (on top of 7% a year earlier), NSW politicians would feel a little embarrassed offering professional firefighters a pitiful 2.5% per year wage rise, especially when inflation is running at over 4%. But one should never underestimate the ability of politicians to look after their own sky-rocketing pay packets while calling for restraint from everybody else.

NSW Treasurer Michael Costa and embattled premier Morris Iemma are refusing to grant firefighters any increase of more than 2.5% without ‘wage related cost savings’. Of course, no such prerequisite was made of them to receive their 6.7% increase or indeed any previous increase. Last year, treasurer Michael Costa’s base salary increased by a massive $13,400 to more than $244,000 per year!

So while receiving an extra thirteen thousand dollars himself, Mr Costa is offering firefighters a pay rise of less than 1/10th of that amount. This is nothing short of a disgusting example of political hypocrisy, and it’s well past time that politicians were called upon to justify their outrageous wage increases, just as they expect of all other employees.

New South Wales firefighters are being told that to get anything over 2.5% they must show wage cost reductions through productivity increases. Unfortunately, there’s not much a firefighter can do to increase productivity. Should they drive faster to fires? Or perhaps extinguish the fires more quickly?

Even if such ridiculous suggestions were achievable, it wouldn’t meet Mr Costa’s criteria of ‘wage related cost savings’ anyway. Indeed, firefighters now perform considerably more work than ever before, constantly being required to learn expanded roles and operate complex new equipment designed to save lives and reduce property damage. But because none of this new work results in “wage related cost savings”, the government offers zero wage increases for any of this new work. It doesn’t matter how many additional lives are saved, how many injuries are eliminated or how much property is preserved. Apparently, the only thing that matters is ‘wage related cost savings.

If this wage stinginess isn’t bad enough, on page 13 of it’s submission to the Industrial Relations Commission last week, the NSW Government threatens to close fire stations to save money if the IRC grants firefighters wage increases in excess of 2.5%! Yep, you’re reading that correctly. However, since their submission hit the papers the Government have been quick to deny any stations will permanently close, which begs the question: Why put it in the submission if you don’t really mean it?

What such closures (Be they permanent or temporary) means to Joe Public, is that instead of the nearest fire engine being 3 or 4 minutes away, it may be 10 or 15 minutes away. And when your house is on fire, an extra 10 minutes could easily be the difference between life and death. The difference between your life and death. Never in the 124-year history of the NSW Fire Brigades has a government threatened public safety in this way. Firefighters, understandably, are livid that the government is clearly threatening public safety to save a few dollars.

I encourage all NSW residents to contact their local member and demand a fair deal for firefighters and other emergency workers in NSW, and to immediately affirm that no fire station will be permanently or temporarily closed to save a dollar. You can also email Michael Costa, Morris Iemma and send an email of support to NSW Firefighters.

I’ll end this piece with a four simple, direct questions for Michael Costa. I’ve emailed these questions to him, but I’m not holding my breath for a direct reply. If I get one, I’ll be sure to post it.

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.
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