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Firies hope NSW minister will reverse cuts

AAP |  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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About Darin Sullivan (1969 Articles)
President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and a professional firefighter with more than 25 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 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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