FBEU President’s Report 2012
For FBEU annual Journal
FBEU Election 2012
In April I was humbled to be re-elected unopposed for my second term as President, and my fourth term on the Union’s State Committee. The election also saw some new faces on State Committee, including those filling the new sub-branch areas after our phase one of the FBEU sub-branch reform/restructure. I would like to thank our out-going officials Travis Broadhurst, Andrew Coppin, Jason Morgan, Terry Kirkpatrick and Stuart Holt for their dedication and sacrifices during their various terms on SCoM. Congratulations to our new officials as well. Their contact numbers and locations can be found on the FBEU website – http://www.fbeu.net. The new SCoM has met a few times now, as has the new State Executive, and we’re all looking forward to working with each other.
The Department has published its findings and revision of the retained summit and the FBEU is currently consulting with our representatives and members on the impacts for retained firefighters. The Union rightfully spends a lot of time, energy, and resources into the retained struggle, and while the retained system is buckling under modern pressures, we will continue to lobby the Department and Government to resource and support our retained firefighters. Please see the story on this later in the magazine.
The dreaded “Allowance” debate
Members may have heard about the discussion we’ve had at stations (and on the FBEU forum) about allowances. It stems from an informal concept discussed at State Committee looking for lateral ways to assist our members facing termination on alternate duties, and to address our long standing goal to gain the rescue allowance for all permanent firefighters. Some panic appears to have set in at allowance stations, and a fair bit of heat has been generated on the forum from those currently receiving the allowance. The State Secretary, Jim Casey, has run some site meetings at Alexandria fire station and Communications, and a few of us have been seeking feedback from members at station level as well. What we have been clear about, is that this is not a formal proposal at this stage, and nothing would occur without going through State Committee and democratic statewide general meetings. Feel free to contact Jim or myself for more information about the concept. I would like to remind all members that we are simply having a conversation with the people that count on this – you.
The FBEU 25 year membership medals are on the way. It’s been a big job, but we’ve been working hard to get them out, and we’ll also be looking to directly post them out to members if they prefer that. All of us on State Committee, especially Jim and I, have enjoyed presenting the medals at retirements, and even birthday functions. Please refer to the web site for ordering and receipt details, or contact your SCoM rep as the time comes up for you.
Another successful Sydney May Day, and another day of celebration for the FBEU. The new venue turned out to be a good spot, and it was great to share a story or two with members from right across NSW. We have a special edition FBEU t-shirt every year for May Day, and this year’s shirt looked great. We were able to present a few medals, and there was a relaxed vibe to the whole afternoon with FBEU members and our families. Thank you to all who came along.
On-shift rescue training
Many members would be aware of the painfully slow roll out of on-shift rescue training. The Union only received the long awaited draft proposal from the Department recently, almost 12 months after the agreement from last year’s Award. Given that fact, and the importance of the issue, the Union has been consulting with our industrial team and SCoM on whether or not the proposal is the best fit for FBEU members. We are aware of the frustration out there, the cancelled assessments, and the continuing bottleneck to get rescue training. Rest assured that the Union is doing our best to ensure that members will receive relevant, safe, and timely rescue training out of the new system, and we’re doing that as fast as we can.
Delegates training and communication
We’re ready to continue our roll out of delegates training. As reported in my last report, a dedicated package has been purpose written, and we have industrial staff to assist our State Committee reps in rolling out this Union program. The training has been conducted in Sydney, Newcastle, and the Illawarra so far. If you would like to see FBEU delegate training in your area, please contact your State Committee representative.
Coalition demolition – our job under threat
With phase one of Barry O’Farrell’s wrecking plan for the NSW Public Sector now complete, we can only imagine what he has in stall for us in phase two. There are threats now to our workers compensation, our Awards, and our conditions generally. Some of that will be taken on by the FBEU as is necessary, but much of this is a public sector wide fight. As such, much of this will be fought on a public sector wide basis. Due to the O’Farrell wages policy and the restrictions that places on us to receive any reasonable outcome, and the fact that more slashing will occur soon, the next Award can only result in a major dispute. We are now looking at this seriously, and it would be no exaggeration to suggest that what we are headed for may be the biggest industrial battle for the FBEU in a generation. Sound heavy? It is. If you’re reading this in the mess room, or at a fire station, or at any FRNSW workplace for that matter, ask your workmates if they understand this. This is a permanent and retained issue that will affect both Awards. All NSW firefighters will have no choice but to fight on this, and fight hard. Stays informed, and stay united.