MEETING RECEIVES EMPLOYER’S EA OFFER REPORT

UFUSA EA

The meeting of Shop Stewards and State Councillors held earlier today at the UFUSA office, formally received and considered an offer in relation to our MFS enterprise agreement (EA).

It was reported that the union has received a pay offer for firefighter members of 2.5% pa.

Backpay of 2.5% from 1 January 2021 then a further 2.5% from 1 January 2022, is included in the offer.

If agreed and certified, the EA would have a life of just under 3 years, expiring with a final 2.5% increase paid on 1 January 2025.

As members know, our union has argued vigorously for a pay increase which is far closer than 2.5%, to maintaining the real buying power of our wages. If this year’s CPI is 7% (it’s predicted to be higher) and our wages only increase by 2.5%, we will have had in effect, a wage cut of 5% in this one year alone.

This would represent a gross devaluation of the work of firefighting and if accepted, would negatively affect not just members now but generations of firefighter members to follow.

Many members speak of the struggles they are experiencing with the spiralling cost of living, the pain of large mortgage and rent increases particularly on young families, the yoke of rising power and fuel costs and escalating grocery bills, as wages across Australia stagnate.

It is generally agreed that there needs to be a wages recovery for there to be an economic recovery, and in services and industries around the country, workers are organising to address concerns about flatlining wages. In WA for example, it was reported this afternoon that public sector workers including firefighters, have rejected a 3% wage increase offer because it cuts real wages; a campaign has been initiated in that state to seek wage justice.

Today’s meeting of UFUSA Shop Stewards and State Councillors were more than disappointed to hear the rationale for the 2.5% offer is that firefighters can’t be given more than the ambos got. We do not for a minute begrudge any ambo their just rewards, however it was noted that if you add up the total package received by the ambos, we too would be pleased to receive it.

The unanimous resolution of today’s meeting is self-explanatory and is as follows:

This meeting of UFUSA State Councillors and Shop Stewards expresses our anger at the contempt shown to firefighters by the Malinauskas government and its failure to keep its commitment to negotiate and bargain in good faith on the SAMFS EA.

The failure of the government to abide by its undertaking that, in keeping with good faith bargaining, it would not impose a “wage cap”, is more than disappointing. The government’s insistence that firefighters accept a 2.5% per annum pay increase because ambos did, is the antithesis of bargaining in good faith.

Both the employer and the union have a clear understanding of the differences in the circumstances of the two separate offers in the two separate sectors.

The failure of the employer to meet in a timely and transparent way in recent months, or to make a fair offer in a timely way, indicates that firefighters are not fairly valued or respected by the State government.

In particular, firefighters express our deep concern that the employers offer does not recognise the pressures of a rapidly escalating cost of living on firefighters.

Nor does it properly recognise the contribution UFUSA members make to the safety and well- being of our community, particularly during the years of out of scale events, including bushfires, pandemic, floods and global warming, where firefighters are on the frontline.

Accordingly, the UFUSA calls upon the Malinauskas government to immediately meet to discuss a fair and reasonable wage offer to firefighters.

Other matters discussed by the meeting in relation to the EA included the ongoing refusal of the Chief Officer to participate in the negotiations, industrial strategies (including the “nuclear” option proposed by some members), the possible resolution of disputed EA clauses such as those covering Fire Cause Investigation and SFQ, the escalation of the numbers of ‘assist other agencies’ calls and related matters, the agreement for a review of the MFS promotions process and for a review of Regional Operations. Reports were also provided on current disputes, WHSR training, and progress on the diesel particulate matter (DPM) campaign.

In an EA development this afternoon, an update was provided to the Shop Stewards and State Councillors that following a call from the office of the Minister for Industrial Relations, Kyam Maher, a meeting is being organised for late next week to seek resolution of the above concerns.

The meeting determined to reconvene later this month to consider a further report on progress or otherwise on the wages offer front.

Members can be sure you will be kept informed of any progress and that we’ll
continue to seek your views. A reminder that members must have the
opportunity to participate in a ballot before any offer will be accepted. Your feedback through your local Shop Steward and/or State Councillor is greatly appreciated. See details of representatives and more information on this issue in Word Back No 20/2022.

Our union has demonstrated that our best outcomes are achieved through our unity and our resolution and no doubt we will continue to do so.

In solidarity,

MEETING RECEIVES EMPLOYER’S EA OFFER REPORT

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United Fire Fighters Union Of South Australia - UFUSA

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