Fire station staffing dispute heads to IRC
Posted July 30, 2012 08:17:51
A dispute over proposed changes to staffing at New South Wales fire stations will go before the Industrial Relations Commission today.
Fire and Rescue New South Wales wants to temporarily shut stations on days where there are not enough staff to cover a shift.
It says it is aimed at reducing the cost of paying other staff overtime to cover leave or sickness.
The Fire Brigade Employees Union warns it could cost lives and affect crews’ response to emergencies.
The State Opposition’s emergency services spokesman Nathan Rees says the plan to close stations is unacceptable.
“The firefighters are right to take the decision to the Industrial Relations Commission,” he said.
“The decision…will mean up to eight stations will be shut at any one time and that inevitably will mean it will take longer for a fire truck and firefighters to get to a fire in a home or business.”
Fire and Rescue says its plan is nothing new and that stations are routinely covered by another station when they are shut for reasons such as training.
Commissioner Greg Mullins has told the ABC that he hopes the changes will address a culture of staff taking sickies which last year saw the budget blow out by $7 million.