Firies hope NSW minister will reverse cutsAAP | July 30, 2012
UPDATE: THE industrial referee has ordered NSW firefighters to sit down and talk with the government.
The order comes after hearing their concerns about employee entitlements.
The Fire Brigade Employees Union took the state government to the Industrial Relations Commission today, arguing plans to cut $64 million from firefighters’ worker entitlements over four years would compromise safety.
But Justice Frances Backman adjourned the matter so the union could meet with Emergency Services Minister Michael Gallacher on Thursday afternoon.
FBEU secretary Jim Casey said he hoped the minister would understand the union’s concerns and argue in cabinet against a 1.2 per cent budget cut policy for NSW Fire and Rescue.
“He’s a hands-on minister and understands emergency services,” Mr Casey said.
“We’re hoping sanity will prevail and the cuts will be reversed.”
The NSW government argues that firefighters’ overtime entitlements blew out by $7 million last year.
A spokesman for Mr Gallacher said average firefighter overtime blew out by 120 hours a year, compared with 50 hours for the average state public servant.
But Mr Casey said firefighters were working overtime to cover for colleagues on annual leave, and clamping down on entitlements would see up to eight Sydney stations shut down as firefighters filled staffing gaps elsewhere.
The union and Mr Gallacher are scheduled to meet on Thursday at 1pm (AEST), before the case resumes in the state’s Industrial Relations Commission.
FBEU NSW president Darin Sullivan has said the union is prepared to take industrial action.
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