As stated in Wordback No 17, it is not unreasonable for firefighters to hope and expect that MFS management will step up and play a proper role in progressing the resolution of our long overdue EA, however the disappointment deepens with the failure of MFS Chief Officer Morgan to respond to the request for him to participate to progress enterprise negotiations for the Service and for Firefighters.
A number of issues from the last Enterprise Agreement also remain outstanding and again, despite these legally binding matters being raised with MFS management, the silence from the MFS continues.
Concerningly, as the cost of living for members escalates, there is still no wage offer on the table for Firefighters.
Accordingly, our concerns have been raised with the relevant government officials in an attempt to progress matters and a full report will be provided to the meeting of State Council scheduled for 9 June and to the combined meeting of Shop Stewards and State Councillors at the UFU at 10:00 hours on 22 June 2022.
We hope to be able to present a positive report however in the absence of genuine progress an alternative course of action will need to be considered for recommendation to members.
SENIOR FIREFIGHTER LEVEL II QUALIFIED
A productive meeting was held last month with Learning and Development representatives about the progress of the new training and development framework for Senior Firefighter Level 2 Qualified and all involved agreed that the SDF is looking really positive. But more work is required on key aspects.
Disappointingly, despite the hard work we’ve been putting into seeking the resolution of the industrial issues arising from the employer’s misinterpretation of the provisions of the enterprise agreement in the last round, the disputation around the employment issues remains. Our proposals for solutions for the parties to go forward have consistently been stonewalled by the employer.
While it’s very exciting that the next cohort of members is ready and keen to embark on the next leg of their career, it is critical that these matters be resolved, and the EA amended. If not, there is potential for today’s enthusiastic participants to become tomorrow’s disillusioned and distressed.
Members affected can be certain that your union is mindful of your need and strong desire to further your training and development and that we continue to seek resolution as a priority; we are hopeful this can be achieved in the near future.
OVERTIME TRIAL PROPOSAL
Commander Duncan Cochrane and Ms Kim Arnott from the MFS Strategic Policy Framework Review Team made a presentation on the MFS Overtime Trial Proposal to the meeting of UFU State Councillors and interested members on 26 May 2022.
Thank you to all who attended and / or provided feedback, questions and concerns on the proposal. We are advised that all feedback has been taken on board by the Review Team and will be addressed in the course of the review.
SAFETY AND RESOURCING
The State Government delivered its Budget yesterday (2 June), which included funding to deliver commitments made to the UFUSA in relation to our campaign for safety and resourcing in the MFS. A glitch with technology precludes me from including the link to the budget in this Wordback however more information will be included in the next edition. There is more work to be completed on the development of a comprehensive asset management plan but meantime congratulations once again to all members for your resolute support for your safety and resourcing campaign over an extended period, you have achieved outcomes which will transform the MFS as they assist in improving your working life and providing an enhanced service to the community.
INJURED WORKERS DAY AND UNDERMINING OF THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SYSTEM
Wednesday 1 June was Injured Workers Day where we fight for concrete changes to workplace legislation and to make sure every worker comes home from work safely. Every worker has the right to safe and healthy work. Sadly, when it comes to the number of people who are harmed while at work, Australian workplaces provide some sobering figures. The 2021 Work Shouldn’t Hurt Report found that one in three workers had sustained an injury or illness due to work in the previous 12 months, that 12% suffered a physical injury and that 22% had a mental health issue.
Showing up at work shouldn’t mean putting yourself in harm’s way. Not only are these statistics unacceptable but they are preventable. We also know that union workplaces are safer workplaces. The report found that having a union health and safety representative at work led to better reporting of health and safety risks. Whether it’s humanising the WorkCover experience for workers or destigmatising mental health, Injured Workers Day is about improving working conditions for all.
Ironic then, to say the least, that on Wednesday the union movement in SA discovered a move by the government to change the workers compensation legislation to the detriment of injured workers, all in the absence of the promised consultation with unions.
Our union stands in solidarity with SA Unions in opposition to the proposed changes and calls upon the Malinauskas government to halt its proposed legislation, to consult with all stakeholders and to conduct an independent actuarial review of the Return to Work scheme. This should involve a full review of the Return to Work system, including a review of the internal culture, practices and procedures of Return to Work SA. Members with experience of the workers compensation system will know this last point is long overdue.