Firies ‘hypocrites’ over station shutdowns
BY: BY JACQUI LE From: AAP November 06, 2012 1:31PM
THE NSW firefighters’ union is being accused of hypocrisy after its campaign against the temporary closure of some Sydney fire stations put even more stations out of action.
Only two stations were scheduled to be closed on Monday night as a step by the NSW government to cut costs, Fire & Rescue NSW said.
But union action at four other posts resulted in a total of six closures.
“I just think they’re hypocritical,” said FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins.
“They’re prepared to take every fire crew offline (through industrial action).
“Yet when there’s six offline – four of them due to industrial action – they claim it’s the end of the world.”
Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (FBEU) secretary Jim Casey defended the industrial action and denied the union was being disingenuous.
“To blame firefighters is to blame the victim,” Mr Casey told reporters.
“It’s not the fault of the firefighters, it’s the fault of the O’Farrell government.”
Earlier on Tuesday the union accused the government of playing “Russian roulette” with community safety by going ahead with temporary closures for the first time on Monday night.
Up to eight stations in Sydney will be shut temporarily each night so firefighters can fill shortages elsewhere.
Mr Casey said the state’s fire and rescue service should not be responsible for justifying the government’s $25 million budget cuts.
“Greg Mullins is the monkey in the situation,” he said.
“We need to talk to the organ grinder – Mike Gallacher, the minister (for emergency services), and Barry O’Farrell, the premier.
“They’re the ones that made these budget cuts. They’re the ones who have created the situation.”
Both the union and management admitted that disagreement over budget cuts and industrial action had affected dialogue between the two parties.
“They need to work with us and stop this scaremongering,” Commissioner Mullins said.
The union said it had no axe to grind with management.
“Greg Mullins, I think, is just as disappointed as anyone, as any firefighter in NSW,” Mr Casey said.
“I think it’s very big of him to come down here and carry the weight for the state government, but they’re the ones to blame for this.”
Opposition Leader John Robertson said it was “cost-cutting gone mad”.