COVID-19 PANDEMIC

UFUSA Covid19

CORONAVIRUS

 The last meeting of our UFU State Council on 12 March 2020, in light of the coronavirus, resolved to seek access for members to the 15 days Leave for Urgent Pressing Necessity available to SA Public Servants under the Commissioner’s Determinations. This will enable members affected by exposure to the virus to feel confident and supported in taking paid time off work. 

Access to this leave was agreed for members affected by the Cudlee Creek and KI bushfires and of course the extension of all applicable provisions of the Commissioner’s Determinations form part of our EA negotiations. 

More recently, your union is engaged in discussions with MFS management on procedures and protocols to deal with the challenges currently confronting us. There are not clear answers to all questions, but we are collectively grappling with how to best tackle those challenges while keeping you and our community as safe as possible. 

The MFS Chief Officer will continue to update the MFS workforce in regard to this. 

Meanwhile the UFU as an employer has taken direct steps to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our staff and officials. Access to the Union Office is now restricted, staff have been offered work from home arrangements and members are requested to contact us by calling 83527211 or emailing to info@ufusa.com.au 

Thank you in anticipation of your understanding and support in this difficult time. 

ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT (EA) UPDATE 

The next meeting for the negotiations on our new EA to continue is scheduled for Monday 23 March 2020 at the UFU office. 

Representatives of the Retained Firefighter Shop Stewards who will be participating in the UFU negotiating team on Monday to address the items on the Log of Claims developed by members employed as Retained Firefighters, are Duncan Harrington, Rachel Eisen, Lauren Wait and Wayne Arthur 

The claims include the establishment of a training register, RPL, a review of the issue of PPE and PPC to Retained Firefighters, a review of the rank structure, the provision of a phone allowance, training in communicable diseases (!) and manual handling, a process for the inclusion of Retained Firefighters in deployments, an increase to the annual retainer, a program for career development, average weekly earnings to be used to pay sick and annual leave, etc. 

And of course, the BIG issue of resourcing, including the provision of training, fit for purpose appliances and equipment will be a prime focus of the discussions for both fulltime and retained firefighters. 

This is in the face of and despite the employer’s repeated assertion in negotiations that they have instructions from the government that they will not negotiate on resourcing; I assure you that our union will continue to vigorously pursue these critical issues. In fact, our UFU President Chas Thomas and I have initiated discussions with the Minister’s office in relation to our concerns, indicating the resolve of firefighters. 

Thank you to all of you who responded to WordBack No 10 in relation to the proposal to change to a “zone system” (previously called a “cluster system”). Many members expressed their concern about the implications of a change. Of course the devil is always in the detail and to date we have not received any detail other than the desire of the government to reduce travel allowances. 

It’s not too late to send in your thoughts, ideas or concerns about such changes so please don’t hesitate to either speak to your Shop Steward or State Councillor, or send us an email to info@ufusa.com.au 

The joint Shop Stewards and State Council meeting scheduled for 17 March 2020 at the UFU Office was postponed in the interests of ‘social distancing’ and we are currently exploring the best way to conduct such meetings electronically for the immediate future. This will allow collective UFU meetings of Fulltime and Retained Firefighter Shop Stewards to be conducted remotely. 

SAMFS EXPENDITURE REVIEW REPORT 

Our union has been advised that the SAMFS Expenditure Review Committee has produced a draft report however we understand that the report will go directly to the government and is classed as Cabinet In Confidence. In other words, we won’t be seeing it any time soon. 

RESPONSE TO THE ‘ANALYSIS’ OF SAFECOM CEO 

Those members who have taken an interest in the above document produced by the new CEO of SAFECOM Dominic Lane have identified it as Mr Lane’s blueprint to make the emergency services sector over in his own special way. 

If you haven’t yet caught up with what’s going on in this space, you can read the document on the UFUSA website by clicking here. 

The UFUSA is currently just finishing up our response to the document and that will be posted on our website as well. 

It is disappointing there was no prior notice to the UFUSA of such a “strategic review” being conducted by Mr Lane nor was there any consultation prior to completion of the report in relation to the content of the report nor the recommendations contained within it. 

It seems that the woes of the sector are largely down to past Chiefs (who weren’t consulted either) and indicative excerpts include reference to “Outdated model of E-000 Call Receipt and Despatch”. 

Of course, our union also gets a mention as part of the problem, with the report fluffing up our 2017 Enterprise Agreement wage increases to 3.6% pa compared to public sector workers who got 2.4% pa in the same period.  

You may recall that firefighters achieved 1.6% on 1 January in 2018, 2019 and 2020, plus the 2 x 2% pay increases on 1 July 2018 and 1 July 2019. This equates to 8.8% over 3 years or an average of 2.93% pa not 3.6% though we’ll take the extra if it’s being offered thanks. 

Our union is not opposed to change; indeed, our union work is focused on campaigning for the critical changes identified by firefighters as desperately needed. 

That’s about change for the better, change in the interests of first responders and those who work to support us, change in the interests of the safety and well-being of our community. 

It means change to adequate resourcing, for example for training, for decent appliances at all stations, strike teams with BOPs, equipment stowed on all appliances, change to treating firefighters with respect through to delivery of the promised wet weather jackets for three winters! 

The way forward for the emergency services sector in SA must be based on a rigorous, up to date and factual analysis developed in consultation with the people who have been and are actually doing the work. The strongest leaders don’t shirk from that. 

STATE BUSHFIRE REVIEW 

Thank you to members who have provided information in relation to the activity involved in the recent bushfires; please don’t hesitate if you have a contribution to make. Please direct any information to info@ufusa.com.au as soon as possible. 

ELECTION FOR THE UFUSA STATE COUNCIL CASUAL VACANCY 

The Australian Electoral Commission has advised that there are four candidates standing for the position of UFU Committee of Management member – Firefighter Representative. 

The AEC is conducting a postal ballot which opened on 10 March 2020 and will close at 17:00 hours (ACST) on 9 April 2020. All members are urged to participate. 

The AEC has sent out the ballot papers which all members should by now have received. Please contact the AEC on 8237 6555 if you have not received your ballot paper and quote reference number: E2019/175. 

MOTHER’S DAY CLASSIC 10 MAY 2020 

I regret to advise that news is just in this morning that the MDC event scheduled for 10 May 2020 has been cancelled. 

It is possible however that this year, in the context of the coronavirus, the MDC will transform into a virtual event. Arrangements are yet to be confirmed so stay tuned for updates on the exciting developments. 

We are strongly committed to maintaining our support for the important work of increasing awareness of and fundraising for research into breast cancer. 

In solidarity,

INAUGURAL APFF CAR AND BIKE ENTHUSIASTS CREWS 

In Augural MFS Staff

COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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HAPPY MAY DAY 

Very best May Day wishes to all UFU members today, International Workers Day. We will celebrate next Saturday 4 May with a March and Family Fun Day, commencing at Elder Park at 11:00 hours.

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United Fire Fighters Union Of South Australia - UFUSA

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