SA BUSHFIRE REVIEW

Cuddly Creek Fires

 SA GOVERNMENT

The South Australian Government this week announced an independent review to be conducted into the unprecedented 2019/20 bushfire season with a focus on both the Kangaroo Island and Cuddly Creek bushfires. 

The review is starting immediately with findings to be delivered in June 2020 with the intent of looking into South Australia’s preparedness for dealing with significant bushfire activity and what can be done to mitigate the impact of bushfires on our communities into the future. Minister Corey Wingard said the review will have a broad scope and will look into preparation, planning, community resilience, response and recovery. 

UFU members have been providing our office with a great deal of feedback about the operations you’ve been involved in so far this season. This information will be used to assist in continual improvement. If you haven’t yet been in touch or if you have feedback or views you believe can assist, please email us at info@ufusa.com.au as soon as possible. 

The UFU State Council is next due to meet on Thursday, 13 February 2020 and will consider this matter including the form and nature of our participation in the Review. 

It should be noted that while the Review is an important initiative for our community, the call for a national Royal Commission will no doubt continue. The challenges confronting us now and into the future have not been and will not be adequately addressed by one agency or one state. 

Reviews and Royal Commissions must not be allowed to be about finger-pointing or blame and certainly not about party politics; as a nation it is time to come together to develop plans including for mitigation, to look at the gaps that exist when the worst happens, to promote interoperability (training, equipment, operational procedures) not just between the agencies but across our country and to work out how the best emergency services can be provided and resourced appropriately. 

Despite the plethora of royal commissions since 1903, there has never been a national Royal Commission into bushfires and the other national emergencies which are now arising on a regular basis. 

Whether or not everyone accepts these disasters are linked by science to climate change, we cannot ignore the very real ongoing and growing threat to firefighters, our communities, stock and wildlife, and our environment. 

Whether it be planning and development initiatives, resourcing, risk reduction, the fitting of BOPS on strike team appliances, appropriate equipment such as TICs or chainsaws on appliances, ensuring firefighters on the fire ground are hydrated and fed appropriately or aerial appliances or the provision of resources such as power and water across state borders, it’s time to work together. 

PAYMENTS ON DEPLOYMENTS 

Many members have been in contact with us regarding payments on deployments and while many issues have been negotiated, clarified and confirmed, some of you who were deployed may still be wondering what actually applies and what to do about it. 

In the first instance please be aware that the Award and Agreement provisions apply. 

You should make your claim in writing to your employer (retaining a copy). If this is rejected, please query the issue and seek an explanation (in writing). If the matter is unresolved, please forward to info@ufusa.com.au for advice and action as appropriate. 

If you were “on call” at Kingscote and Parndana, for example, the MFS has now agreed that overtime is payable for “the full 24 hour periods”, so please ensure you have claimed appropriately. 

The MFS has advised that Retained Firefighters will not receive travel time allowance; we are advising members in this situation that your working hours claim should commence from departure from home and include travel time. 

Many other issues have been raised which we are addressing and hopefully will resolve as quickly as possible. We are seeking that clear arrangements will be incorporated into the current EA negotiations to enhance clarity and avoid disputes in the future deployments. 

BACKPAY FINALLY! 

I’m glad to hear from members that your backpay and new rates (2% from first full pay period on or after 1 July 2019 and 1.6% from first full pay period on or after 1 January 2020) are finally flowing into your pay packets. 

Yesterday I heard some concern about whether the quantum of back pay received is correct and whether it has been correctly calculated. 

Members are urged to be aware of your correct new rates of pay and to always check your payslips and QUERY IN WRITING any discrepancies. If you are not satisfied, please let us know at the union office. 

An excerpt of the new rates ordered by the South Australian Employment Tribunal on 19 November 2019 is below: 

A copy of the new rates, including hourly travel rates, can be found HERE

Meanwhile non-members are invited to donate their increases, won by our union, to charity. 

ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT (EA) NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE 

Dates are being organised for the next negotiation meetings on the MFS EA. Recent events have emphasised the importance of the issues on the UFU Log of Claims. And while the employer has commenced discussion re their claims, we still do not have it in writing. Hopefully this will arrive soon. 

PT PIRIE DISPUTE 

The SBC Recommendations handed down on 13 December 2019 remain without response from the employer. The SAMFS has responded to us saying that the matter has been referred to the Department of Treasury and Finance for advice. Our view is that this matter has dragged on for too long already and resolution is required in the terms of the Recommendations. The UFU developing the next steps which will be considered by State Council on 13 February 2020. 

SPEED LIMIT PASSING EMERGENCY VEHICLES 

Once again, the proposal to raise the speed limit past emergency vehicles at incidents from 25 kph to 40 kph has arisen. 

The UFUSA has always supported the lower limit of 25 kph in the interests of the safety of our members and in the absence of a good reason to do otherwise, we will continue to do so. Members have told me that there are often near misses now with the limit at 25kph. 

The RAA is reportedly advocating for an increase to 40 kph in SA to be nationally consistent. It is also argued that too many rear end accidents are taking place particularly on country roads with higher speed limits and the need to rapidly decelerate, though no statistics have been provided. 

As front-line workers exposed to the risk, how do you feel about this? Your views are critical so please do not hesitate in letting us know by emailing info@ufusa.com.au 

ELECTION FOR THE UFUSA STATE COUNCIL CASUAL VACANCY 

A reminder that nominations are open for the election of the position of a Committee of Management member – Firefighter Representative. 

All members up to and including Senior Firefighters are eligible to stand for this State Council position. 

The election notice and official nomination form provided by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has been published and can be accessed on our website www.ufusa.com.au 

You can click HERE for the Nomination Form to go there directly. 

Nominations must reach the AEC Returning Officer via the stipulated lodgement methods (on the election notice) no later than 17:00 hours Australian Central Daylight Time (ACDT) on 17 February 2020. 

Eligible members are strongly encouraged to consider standing for this important position and getting more involved in the decision-making of YOUR union. 

In solidarity,

SA BUSHFIRE REVIEW

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United Fire Fighters Union Of South Australia - UFUSA

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