COVID-19 UPDATE

UFUSA Covid19

CORONAVIRUS

It’s an understatement to say that the impact on our lives of the COVID–19 virus is immense, while at the same time, we are all conscious that we may not yet have seen the worst of it. 

We all hope that curve is flattening but expert advice is that it’s still early days. 

As frontline emergency services workers, UFU members continue to rise to the challenges presented, making a significant contribution to the safety, health and well-being of our community; no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you set a standard of best practice. 

As you’d expect, that’s also reflected in our union work on COVID-19, as we focus on cooperation and, yes, collaboration with management, both parties putting aside differences to confront this pandemic with the unified front we all believe is required. 

As contained in Wordback No 13, great flexibility has been granted by the UFU State Council to the MFS to utilise when/if the emergency escalates and available staffing numbers in the service reduce significantly. Of course, this is premised on a commitment to transparency and effective consultation which, I’m glad to acknowledge, is being honoured in deed as well as word. 

Such extraordinary lengths as contained in the Operational Levels of Preparedness (OLOPs) may ultimately be required to keep you and your families safe and to assist you in rendering necessary services to the community. There are safeguards around that and again I refer you to Wordback No 13. 

You may have read recently about the push for frontline workers who risk exposure to the coronavirus to be covered by presumptive legislation where the virus is contracted. Much like our presumptive cancer legislation, this would remove the burden of proof from the worker that the virus was contracted in the course of employment. 

Whether or not such a push is successful, it is already possible to make a claim for a work injury if you do contract the virus in the course of your work. Keeping a record of any potential exposure will be very important in the process of making a claim should you be so unfortunate as to contract COVID-19. 2 

Prevention however is always better than cure as we all know. So please do continue to follow the instructions on hand washing, housekeeping and hygiene. It could save a life. 

As reinforced in Wordback No 13, you will receive All Staff Emails, updating you on what will apply at any time and what changes are being made; it’s a very dynamic situation so please do watch out for those emails. 

The MFS has made a firm commitment that escalation to the next action in each OLOP Level will only occur as it is required and that they will continue to consult with the union prior to each escalation being implemented. 

Our President Chas Thomas is heading up our UFU Operational task force for the consultative process with the MFS. I will continue to be involved in the consultation together with our UFU Executive members Vice President (Officers) Chris Barry, Vice President (Firefighters) Michael Riggs, and Treasurer Matt Watherston 

Please don’t hesitate to contact your UFU representatives with any questions or concerns or you can direct them to the union office on 8352 7211 or by email to info@ufusa.com.au 

BROADSPECTRUM 

Arrangements to address COVID-19 are disappointingly less advanced for UFU members employed by Broadspectrum with long-standing issues such as the poor standard of accommodation now critical. 

Discussions have been initiated with Broadspectrum management to seek resolution which will ensure the highest levels of protection for members.

ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT (EA) UPDATE 

The meeting for EA negotiations for the next MFS Firefighters Agreement, scheduled for 1 April 2020 was postponed due to the current circumstances relating to COVID-19; consideration is currently being given to the best way forward with this matter and State Council and Shop Stewards will meet by videoconference to discuss this in the near future. 

SUPERANNUATION 

With the recent issues regarding correct rates of pay and subsequent backpay for members, please stay vigilant and regularly check your payslips to ensure your superannuation is being paid correctly. 

Machine errors can occur and the sooner they are identified, the easier and quicker it is to rectify them. 

If you have any concerns regarding your superannuation, please raise the query with your chain of command via an SP26 ASAP. If the matter remains unresolved, please contact the UFU Office on 8352 7211 or via email at info@ufusa.com.au

INJURED AT WORK? 

What to do first: You should ensure any injury is reported at your workplace and in writing if possible; please do keep a copy so you have a record. 

  • Consult with your own treating doctor. It is a fundamental right by law that you choose your own doctor. The first visit is often the most important one in deciding the claim. 
  • Your doctor will issue you with a Work Capacity Certificate. 
  • Request a claim form from your employer or if necessary, our union office can provide you with one. We can assist you to complete this form too if you wish. It is not, for example, designed for injuries such as the presumptive cancers, so it can be a bit confusing. 
  • Your doctor will determine, in consultation with you, if time off from work is required and, if so, your doctor will record his/her recommendations in the Work Capacity Certificate. 
  • The compensating authority SAFECOM is required by law to determine the claim within 10 business days however if they are unable to do so they have to offer interim payments and meet medical expenses until the determination of the claim occurs. 
  • An injured worker is not only entitled to your average weekly earnings (generally determined on the last 12 months of wages) but also entitled to reasonable medical expenses e.g. doctor’s consultations, physiotherapy, radiology testing, and home assistance if required. 
  • It’s more than probable that in conjunction with the MFS Return to Work Co-ordinator, a treating Doctor, the injured worker and a MFS representative will draw up a Recovery and Return to Work Plan to assist when the injured worker has capacity to return to work in a safe and sustainable manner. 
  • The Union is always ready to assist you if you are injured, if requested. Please do seek advice early rather than too late. 

It is important that if you’re injured and have concerns regarding the procedure of how your claim is being processed, please contact your Union office on 8352 7211 at the earliest opportunity to ensure your interests are protected. 

MOTHER’S DAY CLASSIC 

Yes, the MDC is going ahead in virtual form! Watch this space for exciting news on an initiative to take us all out of the doldrums. 

UNION OFFICE 

The UFU has taken direct steps to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our staff, officials and members and hopefully the general public by practising physical distancing wherever possible together with a range of other measures in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Access to the Union Office is now restricted with staff largely working from home. Members are requested to contact us by calling 83527211 or emailing to info@ufusa.com.au. Thank you in anticipation of your patience and understanding as we deal with existing and incoming issues according to priority. 

SA REVIEW INTO 2019/2020 BUSHFIRE SEASON SUBMISSION 

Many members have contacted us with feedback about their involvement in strike teams to Cudlee Creek and deployments to NSW and KI. 

The UFU is currently drafting its submission for filing with the review, which is due Friday next week (17 April 2020), and are using member feedback to assist. 

If you have feedback about your involvement in Cudlee Creek, NSW or KI and haven’t contact us already, please do so ASAP by calling 83527211 or emailing to info@ufusa.com.au. 

REMINDER: 

ELECTION FOR THE UFUSA STATE COUNCIL VACANCY – BALLOT EXTENDED 

In accordance with the request of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) we have posted the following notice to members on our UFUSA website in relation to the current ballot for the casual vacancy of: 

Committee of Management Member – Firefighter Representative (E2019/175). 

Please be advised that, due to current circumstances, changes have been made to this election as follows

  • The close of the Ballot will be extended to 10.00am on Wednesday 22 April 2020. (extended from 5.00pm, Thursday 9 April). 
  • No new ballot papers will be issued to reflect this change of date for the close of the ballot. 
  • Completed and returned ballot papers will be accepted for inclusion in the scrutiny up until the new closing time and date of the ballot at 10am on Wednesday 22 April 2020

If you have not yet received your ballot paper, you should contact the AEC immediately on 8237 6555 and quote reference number: E2019/175 to receive a ballot paper. Time is running out so please do this if necessary, NOW. 5 

Please note that I am required under legislation to keep an accurate roll of members so if your postal address has changed in recent times and you HAVE NOT advised your union, it’s enormously helpful if you would contact us to advise the change of details by calling us on 83527211 or emailing to info@ufusa.com.au Thank you for your assistance. 

In solidarity. 

COVID-19 UPDATE

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United Fire Fighters Union Of South Australia - UFUSA

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