The meeting of UFUSA Shop Stewards and State Councillors held yesterday was very well attended and Members will be proud to know of the personal time and commitment your elected representatives continue to dedicate to pursuing your interests and their passionate engagement in seeking the best outcomes for members.
Such engagement demonstrates very clearly the strength and solidarity of UFUSA members which is an essential basis for achieving successful outcomes. Those present at the meeting advised that they will now be reporting back to members on the matters discussed, including issues such as our negotiating position on the quantum of the pay claim. Please let us know if you’d like to have such a meeting.
A key issue agreed by the meeting yesterday is to ensure that the real wage or “buying power” of firefighters is not diminished particularly in an environment of escalating cost of living prices, whether it be fuel, food, housing or other household expenses. The meeting recognised with concern the impact of rising costs, particularly on the family budgets of newer firefighters on lower pay rates, as well as on those members looking to transition to retirement.
It was well understood that if the buying power of our wages falls behind, it is difficult if not impossible to recover the position and we must collectively do everything in our power to achieve strong wage outcomes to prevent this occurring. It is recognised that this is difficult in a year when the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is over 5% and now being tipped to possibly reach 7% however we remain resolute.
The views of the membership were strongly conveyed to the meeting by representatives present, particularly the anger and frustration felt by members at the lack of progress with the commitment by the employer to EA negotiations and the resolution of industrial disputes.
Accordingly, the meeting made a firm commitment to a return to strong and public campaigning in the absence of an appropriate response from the employer. It was unanimously resolved that:
“This meeting of UFUSA Shop Stewards and State Councillors having heard and considered the report of the EA negotiating team:
Expresses our deep concern at the failure of the employer to engage meaningfully in negotiations on the Enterprise Agreement despite over 2 years of negotiations and more than one year without any pay increase to firefighters;
Calls upon the Chief Fire Officer to reengage with our union to participate meaningfully in the negotiations to assist in ensuring wage justice for MFS firefighters;
We call upon the SA government to immediately honour its election commitment to the UFUSA to negotiate the MFS EA in good faith as a priority. In so doing this meeting seeks:
- Outcomes with no pay cuts in real terms
- Agreement on backpay to 1 January 2021
- No trade-offs
- Agreed meeting and completion dates for negotiations
- No disadvantage to firefighters caused by the dilatory approach of the employer
- The immediate implementation and honouring of commitments made by the employer in the last EA and a firm undertaking to continue to honour those given in this EA
- The resolution of the SFQ clause in the EA.
- Independent review of promotions processes and procedures in the life of the EA.
In the absence of a satisfactory response from the employer in relation to the resumption of negotiations and these being determined by the UFUSA to be in good faith, by 30 June 2022, this meeting resolves to commence a campaign to secure our objectives.”
We can report the response now received from the government expressing ministerial concern at the failure of the employer representatives to progress the matters we raise. Further, that we have received the commitment of the Minister for Industrial Relations/Attorney General Kyam Maher, to ensuring that arrangements are being made for negotiations to recommence, that negotiations will take place in good faith and that there will be an additional resource from his department to assist in a resolution of outstanding matters.
Members can be assured that your EA bargaining team continues to pursue the matter relentlessly and that a further meeting of UFUSA Shop Stewards and State Councillors will be convened to report on progress and to determine actions in the absence of satisfactory progress on Wednesday, 3 August 2022 at 10:00 hours.
BY-ELECTION FOR STATE COUNCIL
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