Members who may not have caught up with Wordback 02/2022 will find details of the offer therein and considerations raised by the meeting of UFUSA State Councillors and Shop Stewards held on Monday, 31 January 2022.
The meeting resolved that your representatives will organise meetings of members to discuss the offer at every station and workplace on every shift possible. Importantly members will resolve the issue at ballot which, subject to arrangements being made, may commence late next week.
SAFETY AND RESOURCING
he issue of safety and resourcing in the position of this government was also laid out in Wordback 02/2022 however those members interested in knowing more about how fire services compare around the country, the Productivity Commission recently handed down its report which you can access through this link: https://www.pc.gov.au/research/ongoing/report-on-government-services/2022/emergency-management/emergency-services
SA fire and rescue services are now at the bottom of the State funding rankings and the figures are telling. No amount of the Marshall government’s smoke and mirrors can or should, cover this up.
Members were made aware late on 1 February 2022 firstly through SAPOL social media, that the Police Commissioner/State Coordinator had issued an Emergency Management (COVID – 19) Direction which applies to all MFS workers and all persons attending MFS settings. The direction requires vaccination against Covid 19 from 13 February 2022 and there is a requirement from that date that employees provide evidence of their Covid 19 vaccinations.
Successive WordBacks have made it clear that the UFUSA membership is strongly committed to the protection of our community and that our union supports and encourages the use of the safe and effective vaccines approved by ATAGI to protect the health of our members and our community.
It is understood that Membership views on this matter are many and varied, reflecting those across the community which of course cover a broad spectrum of opinion. Our union objectives require us to take the best advice possible to protect and advance the interests of our members, a vast majority of whom are already vaccinated. We understand though that many are hesitant or worried and some await the protein-based Novavax, not due out until 21 February 2022 at the earliest.
The UFUSA has made it clear that our union does not support a mandate which requires members to entrust our health records to a vulnerable government system, and to undertake a personal health step under threat of disciplinary action and potentially losing your livelihood or going on unpaid leave and possibly being deemed to have broken the continuity of your service.
While the force of the mandate is clear, the UFUSA continues to monitor outcomes in legal proceedings around the country and we have sought and received a range of legal counsel in order to provide our membership with the best possible avenues of recourse to try to avoid the conflict the employer has now unleashed.
Coincident with potential negative effects on employment will be a possible worsening of the impact on an already depleted staffing level both in the MFS and in assistance given to other emergency services. We are asking for example, what plans are in place in relation to the rapidly increasing number of ambulance assist calls or for bushfire emergencies necessitating MFS backing up the CFS? What plans are there for the interface between MFS and the other emergency services personnel such as CFS and SES, services where there is no mandate imposed? Why is that and have different personnel management strategies been deployed in those services? Why has working from home been excluded by the MFS?
Our concern has been expressed to the Chief Officer about the absence of any consultation or communication on this matter with your union. For the news to be released on SAPOL social media in the first instance is simply unacceptable and reinforces our concerns about pandemic management. We reflect here on the failure to provide a vaccination program to the workforce, the absence of information and education, the deployment of firefighters as baggage handlers, the repeated breaches by the MFS of state lockdown provisions and the lack of consultation or communication about the establishment of the morgue facility at Angle Park, for example.
Correspondence has been directed to the MFS Chief Officer expressing our concerns and seeking further information in relation to a range of issues and we will keep you informed of the response should we receive one. In particular, our union will seek with interest, the reason for the Police Commissioner’s mandate now, which would appear to confront the government’s election eve insistence that the pandemic crisis has already peaked.
WORLD CANCER DAY: Thousands of Australian Workers Die from Occupational Cancer Every Year
It’s a grim reminder that today, is World Cancer Day and below is a media release from the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) for your information. We know that UFUSA members are particularly affected by occupational cancers as our office is sadly often called upon to assist members and members’ families in this regard. And it is of course a reminder that we all need to ensure all possible preventative steps are in place such as early decontamination, storage, and use of PPE, and please don’t forget about talking to your medical practitioner about screening for cancer at an earlier age than the general population.
But the employer has a very clear statutory responsibility to provide a safe work environment and working conditions. We continue to fight hard to ensure the PPE, equipment and training you receive are the best available and that all steps are taken to engineer out any risks arising in the course of employment.
This is why the UFUSA continues to fight for the resourcing to ensure the risk posed by diesel particulates in our workplaces is effectively addressed. “Not a dollar more” said the Marshall government in response. Clearly, it’s a case of no care, no responsibility. We fight on.
ACTU Media Release: Over one in ten (14%) cases of lung cancer could be prevented if asbestos, silica, diesel exhaust and welding fume exposure were reduced in workplaces, according to best available data.
World Cancer Day is a time to reflect and remember those who’ve lost their lives to occupational cancer. This fight won’t be over until all Australian workers can go to work and know they’re going to be safe from disease. This is roughly 1800 work-related deaths every year from lung cancer that could’ve been avoided with better safety measures.
The ACTU is calling upon the Morrison Government to take urgent action, including implementing recommendations made by the National Dust Diseases Taskforce. Adequate workplace exposure standards, including for diesel exhaust and welding fumes, must be implemented for all dangerous substances, to avoid more preventable deaths from lung disease.
“We are calling upon the Morrison Government – once again – to implement the recommendations put forward by the National Dust Diseases Taskforce. Until we have an adequate, fit-for-purpose workplace exposure standard for these dangerous substances, we’re going to continue to see deaths from lung disease caused by work exposure.