DRAFT NEW ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT FOR MEMBERS TO CONSIDER

UFUSA vote

BALLOT SOON

Many meetings and much work has been devoted to the development of the draft of the new Enterprise Agreement (EA) since receiving the latest offer and we think we’re almost there.

Even with a minimal changes document, the parties must agree on the actual form of words to be included in the draft EA, the resolution of concerns arising, the many details and technicalities involved and importantly, the arrangements for and timing of the ballot.

The precise terms of the employer’s offer as well as a number of outstanding matters were required to be addressed including the resolution of the implementation of the government’s undertakings, and the removal of roadblocks to the delivery of previous EA commitments. I’m happy to report these have all been satisfactorily addressed.

The document which incorporates the draft wages schedules reflecting the employer’s wage offer as outlined in Wordback 39/2022, will be sent out to members soon for your consideration prior to a ballot being held on whether or not to accept it.

An announcement on the dates for the ballot will be made very shortly; it’s an agreed priority for all parties.

Some members have said they would like more guidance from the union about how we think you should vote in the forthcoming ballot. There was much debate about this amongst your elected Shop Stewards and State Councillors who have collectively stopped short of making a recommendation about this offer.

There is unanimity that a 3% wage increase in January 2023, 2024, and 2025 is not a great offer when the cost of living looks like climbing past 8% this year. And how much does the $1500 cash payment (pro rata for part-time firefighters) sign on bonus really help? What will the CPI do in the next two years?

Firmly attached to acceptance of the EA wages offer of course, is the offer of backpay of 2.5% from 1 January 2020 and 2.5% from 1 January 2021 which is an important consideration for most members, particularly the compounding wage value, as prices skyrocket. Everyone’s circumstances are different, however there can be no doubt that household budgets are stretched and the backpay would be welcomed by all. Should we put it at risk?

Many questions arise in consideration of the offer; it is problematic to outline them in the “unbiased” fashion sought. In addition it would be strategically very unwise to reproduce here many of the considerations discussed and debated by your elected representatives.

The employer has made it clear that this is a final offer in the negotiations. It is open to members to vote to reject that position and continue to campaign longer, tougher and harder for a higher offer. It is equally open to members to accept the offer, bank the backpay and commit to starting now to prepare ourselves industrially, politically, and financially for a strong wages push which will be required in 2025.

The activism and solidarity of UFU members has delivered significant improvements for firefighters in the MFS there can be no doubt, and your union is resolved that diverse membership views and debate are healthy and can strengthen rather than divide or weaken us.

So what it really comes back to is, please do discuss this in a mature comradely way with your workmates and we’ll try to keep as much information as possible flowing to you. When you have the opportunity to vote, please participate and express your view as to whether the current offer is acceptable to you. This is a big decision, and a majority vote will determine the outcome.

Your Shop Stewards and State Councillors have discussed the strategic matters referred to above and debated the considerations referred to, so I urge you to let us know if you would like to have a meeting and we’ll organise it so we can discuss those more sensitive matters directly and frankly with you.

RESOLUTION OF UFUSA SHOP STEWARDS & STATE COUNCILLORS

“This meeting of UFUSA Shop Stewards and State Councillors having heard and considered the report of the EA negotiating team:

  1. Acknowledges the improvement in the wages offer to firefighters and congratulates the membership on their ongoing strength and unity, which has won these improvements.
  2. Reiterates our concerns about the financial pressures facing workers across all industries and acknowledges the challenges facing UFU members and our families in trying to meet the rapidly escalating cost of living, both current and forecast.
  3. In that context, the pay offer, while improved, is recognised as a modest one and it is noted fire fighter work has expanded and requires an increasing level of professional development to meet the challenges of a fast changing environment. These are matters yet to be addressed.
  4. It is recognised that the objectives of the resolution of our meeting of 19 October 2022 have otherwise been met by the offer, specifically:
    1. backpay to 1 January 2021 and 1 January 2022,
    2. a shorter agreement of approximately two years with a final payment on expiry of the proposed new agreement on 1 January 2025,
    3. no trade-offs are sought, and
    4. industrial matters of concern are being progressed.
  5. The bonus payment of $1500 (or pro rata to part-time and Retained Firefighters) and the work now underway to deliver performance of the 2017 commitments on Engineering Department staffing and the provision of Galatea jackets to all recruit squads from January 2018 are also noted.

On this basis, this meeting resolves to lift all current campaign bans and actions from 0800 hours on Saturday 5 November 2022 to enable full consideration of the offer by the membership, to permit confirmation of the implementation of the 2017 commitments, and to confirm drafting of the final document.”

In solidarity,

DRAFT NEW ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT FOR MEMBERS TO CONSIDER

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United Fire Fighters Union Of South Australia - UFUSA

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