UFUSA Safety And Resourcing Campaign

The enterprise bargaining meeting of 4 August 2021 repeated the previous pattern of the employer continuing to stonewall on the issue of safety and resourcing, refusing to even discuss asset management plans or to propose another for where these critical issues can be discussed. 

While our union welcomes the “rush” of shiny new trucks we have achieved, which will continue to arrive in the lead up to the March 2022 election, we know that these 8 appliances will not address the downward spiral of the declining age and sorry state of the MFS fleet and equipment. Nor will it address the lack of proper asset management planning and funding into the future. 

Industrial bans were lifted in good faith earlier this year, in order that discussions could proceed in the hope that some progress could be made through further discussions, however this is not proving too fruitful to date and will require review in the coming months. ‘Blood from a stone’ are words which spring to mind. Below FYI is a summary of some of the other issues discussed on Wednesday. 

The employer continues to seek ‘trade-offs’ including training over 7 days. No detail has been provided to us in relation to the MFS proposal however we are told this is coming. Our union has asked how this initiative would be funded and we are advised that the MFS will find the funds from “somewhere”. It is noted that this matter was considered in the last round of negotiations for the 2017 Enterprise Agreement (EA) and was dismissed by the employer at that time due to the cost involved. 

The UFUSA has advised the employer that while we do not endorse ‘trade-offs’, we always will continue to look at ways in which the service can be made to be as efficient as possible. Indeed this has previously been the case as illustrated by the mid-term reviews in the 2017 EA. 

It seems that those mid-term review pay increases (2%) we won are still irking the employer as we have received a draft clause from them which proposes to delete the Single Bargaining Centre (SBC) from the EA. The SBC is an internal consultative mechanism to resolve disagreements about the EA and it was the mechanism which heard and found for us on the mid-term reviews. 

Our union also raised a range of issues set out in the 2017 EA and the Deed and Contract, which have not been addressed or implemented by the employer during the life of the agreement and we sought responses from the employer on matters including: 

  • The regular provision of operational staffing numbers 
  • Purchased leave – trial conducted but no policy development 
  • Appointment and Secondment Policy Review 
  • Operational Procedures and Policy Review 
  • Review of Unplanned Leave 
  • Dress Gallatea Jackets – were to be provided to all recruits from January 2018 
  • Marine Review 
  • Country Staffing Arrangements Review 
  • Parental Leave – payment of superannuation insurance premiums by MFS while on unpaid leave 
  • Review of Learning and Development – Career Stream 
UFUSA Safety And Resourcing Rally

Payslips – meetings are being conducted with Shared Services in relation to upgrading payslips so that they are accurate, consistent and list all leave entitlements. 

Commissioner’s Determinations 

Our union has sought inclusion in the EA of public-sector provisions contained within the Commissioner’s determinations to remove doubt and disputation. The employer has indicated they would not have a problem with doing this. 

Retained Firefighters 

Claims for Retained Firefighters have been put to the employer previously and we still await responses to them. At the meeting on Wednesday, the issue of the requirement for unpaid training time was raised, noting that such requirements fall under the topic being discussed nationally of Wage Theft. The lead employer representative from Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) advised that he does not have instructions but “based on the final package” this will be discussed with the MFS. 

Retained Firefighters are also seeking a change of name, (perhaps to Regional Firefighters) however the representatives from DTF and the MFS were not in accord between themselves about a name change. They have gone away to discuss this matter and will come back to us. 

Protection from Diesel Particulate Matter 

UFUSA Safety And Resourcing Campaign

Funding to enable the MFS to address the risk of diesel particulate matter continues to be sought from the government, to date without response. 

SFQ Level 2 

The concern about the EA clause being misused/abused to “demote” members and the massively negative effect on the members involved was addressed by the union. The employer was advised that the current dispute has arisen from a deliberate misinterpretation of the EA clause and the lack of empathy displayed by management towards those affected, dashes any hope of working together on new initiatives. No response was received from the employer. 

Regional Allowances 

The employer is seeking reduced allowances which are currently provided for under the Award rather than the EA, and which are currently subject to legal proceedings for underpayment. Our union has repeatedly stated that we are open to discussion on the issue however this must be in terms of the review of regional operations across the board and not simply a reduction of allowances at Port Pirie Station. 

SA Public Sector Workforce Rejuvenation Scheme 

The UFU became aware recently of the above scheme which is a state government initiative “aimed at rejuvenating the South Australian public sector workforce by making available an incentive to employees to separate from state public-sector employment.” 

While there has been no consultation to date with the union, following the meeting we have been provided with a copy of the scheme which you can access on our website here. It involves a termination payment of up to $50,000 gross to an employee with not less than 10 years’ service up to the effective date of resignation and $25,000 gross to an employee with less than 10 years’ service. Resignations must be effective by 31 December 2021. 

The MFS advised that it has not yet determined whether the scheme will be utilised in the MFS; the DCO is establishing a working party on the matter however as he is on leave, no further details are available. 3 

Pay Increase -our union has been attempting to discuss the quantum of pay increases for 2021, 2022 and 2023 however once again the employer replied that they would not put a figure on the table until they have a complete package including trade-offs. This is an unacceptable negotiating stance which once again augurs very poorly for a negotiated resolution. 

Employer Representation: FYI the MFS was represented at this meeting by ACFO’s Mr Peter Button and Mr Colin Lindsay and Ms Shiona Somerville, together with DTF representatives Mr Simon Johnson and Mr Brendan Duffy. UFUSA Representatives were President Chas Thomas, Vice President (Officers) Matt Watherston, Vice President (Firefighters) Andy Caire and Secretary Max Adlam with staff members Paul Caica and Rachel Eisen. 

In solidarity 


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United Fire Fighters Union Of South Australia - UFUSA

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