Your UFU State Council yesterday received and unanimously endorsed a report on the response by Labor to our safety and resourcing concerns and what Labor commits to, should they form the next government following the 19 March election.
State Council has the responsibility to try to negotiate the best outcomes for firefighters, and informed by that, to outline what is the likely impact on members of the way we cast our ballots tomorrow week, so you can take it into account.
Our safety and resourcing campaign ‘asks’ have been reasonable and relatively modest, and it is disappointing to say the least that the Marshall government has failed dismally to address the very real concerns expressed by firefighters over the last 4 years.
We have plunging spending on fire and rescue services in SA (see Productivity Commission Report January 2022), a blunt refusal to share the contents of the 2019 independent Report on the MFS Expenditure Review, and no care or concern about the risk to firefighters and the community we protect, posed by budgetary shortfalls. “Not a dollar more,” said Mr Lucas memorably.
So, our union has extensively worked with the Labor leadership through the wide range of safety and resourcing concerns raised by UFU members, with a number of key priorities identified and a process developed to address future redundancy and replacement of appliances, equipment, and stations.
A commitment has also been given by Labor to immediately commencing negotiations in good faith on the next SAMFS enterprise agreement, with the UFU emphasising that members are seeking and deserve a decent pay increase in the face of a dramatically increasing cost of living.
The commitment from Labor does not of course cover everything we need and are seeking but State Council believes it would provide a sound foundation for recovery over time of a severely depleted fire and rescue service and free up some budgetary restraints to enable sorely needed improvements in other areas such as training and development.
We are also fortunate to have commitments from the Greens and a range of Independents to work with us and with Labor if elected, to address the many areas of concern within the fire and rescue service.
For your information this morning Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Lee Odenwalder will make Labor’s commitment public with the following announcement:
South Australians need and deserve a modern, well-resourced metropolitan fire service, now and into the future.
A Malinauskas Labor Government will provide our metropolitan firefighters with funding for twelve (12) additional Heavy Urban Pumper fire trucks over the next four years, on top of current commitments, to bring the operational fleet up to a maximum age of 20 years.
Labor will also work with the MFS and the United Firefighters Union to negotiate a comprehensive asset management plan, focussed on truck, station, and equipment replacement, aiming to ensure that Firefighters will have the necessary resources to do their job.
Firefighters have been engaged in a campaign to force the Marshall Government to properly address their resourcing shortages, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Labor has listened and will act. Labor will also:
- Provide ongoing funding for two additional tradespeople, and two apprentices in the MFS engineering department, to speed up repairs and maintenance
- Provide $250,000 for a trial of emission extraction technology to limit emergency workers’ exposure to diesel particulates If you want to know what firefighters need to keep us safe, you need to listen to firefighters.
Labor has listened to the very real concerns of firefighters and is taking action to ensure that our firefighting fleet is modernised and keeps up with an increasingly challenging firefighting environment. South Australians need to know that when they call the fire service, those firefighters are well-resourced and well equipped to keep their homes and families safe.
PLEASE ADD YOUR VOICE TO THE UFUSA SAFETY & RESOURCING CAMPAIGN BY GOING TO & BY SHARING:
UFU members naturally have many and varied views on the subject of the COVID pandemic, just as the general community does. We hear the many different opinions of members about both our publicised pro-vaccination stance and about our opposition to the vaccination mandate which was introduced a few weeks ago. Our concern for the safety of members combines with our concern about firefighters’ access to employment.
With the lifting of the SAPOL mandate last Friday, MFS management was immediately contacted by our union to discuss the ramifications and plans for the fire service. A meeting was held with senior management on Wednesday, 9 March 2022 to explore the strategy to return all members to their employment at the earliest possible time and the steps necessary to ensure the safety of co-workers and the community.
A key concern expressed by management was the level of full vaccination within the MFS which is reported to be below that of the general population and significantly less than is said to be achieved in SAPOL.
The MFS agreed to issue a clear communication to the workforce in the near future, about the situation and the issues it has under consideration. Meanwhile the parties agreed to seek advice from subject experts and to continue to meet to work on this issue in a consultative way.
GAD GAD GADDING…AGAIN
Members waiting patiently on the cab rank have been disappointed to receive a notice calling for expressions of interest to be Gadded to Station Officer positions, instead of being promoted. They are quite rightly flabbergasted to be used to temporarily fill roles rather than be promoted in an environment with obvious evidence of a shortfall of Station Officers and a large amount of overtime being required. Membership concerns and dissatisfaction have been raised with management and you can expect more to come on this running sore.