SAFETY & RESOURCING CAMPAIGN REPORT

UFUSA Resourcing Campaign MFS

There appears to be no limit to the “smoke and mirrors”* the Marshall government is prepared to deploy to avoid facing up to the critical resourcing needs in the fire and rescue services in SA. 

*Something intended to disguise or draw attention away from an often embarrassing or unpleasant issue. 

UFUSA Resourcing Campaign

We’re told that in politics if you kick up enough dust, public attention may be diverted and the critical issues obscured and lost from public view. Such a cynical approach serves firefighters and our community poorly and we are resolute that the voice of firefighters will not be silenced. 

The recent attempt by the Treasurer to dirty up firefighters saying that our act up ban is costing $110,000 per week ignores the fact that in the months prior to the UFU ban being introduced in 2020 the cost was closer to $140,000 per week. 

MFS management has openly acknowledged that they do not have enough Firefighters and Station Officers promoted to the officer ranks so there is a constant heavy reliance on act ups – the government doesn’t allow enough positions to cover the shortfall but strangely the huge ongoing cost of this was not mentioned by the Marshall government in its media release. 

Those regular costly employer failures pale into insignificance however alongside the many other areas of waste and inefficiency within the MFS currently being identified by UFU members around the state. 

MAINTAINING THE AGEING FLEET

UFUSA Resourcing Campaign

The excessive costs involved in maintaining the ageing fleet have already been raised on many occasions, but it seems none has counted the cost of crews making running repairs, or of the crews hanging around waiting for a replacement appliance, when often that replacement appliance has no gear on it and/or then has different stowage arrangements to the vehicle being put in for repair? Recently this cost a day shift of the 4 crew members involved hanging around at Scania, before they assisted with the repair to get their truck eventually back on the road. Or the recruit squads out training who had their appliance requisitioned out on the fire pad because there were no spares for operational needs. 

The concurrent running down of the number of Engineering Department Technicians ensures it’s a challenge to keep the fleet on the road and this is then used by the employer to move to expensive outsourcing which reportedly is often ineffective or vehicles are returned with jobs not performed at all. 

In 2018 the MFS management told us they do not have the expertise in house to manage the engineering management systems and they brought in Babcock to assist them (while guaranteeing Babcock would never perform MFS engineering functions). Of course the contract is all very secret squirrel but documents have been sighted in which the MFS is invoiced over $220,000 for a month, inclusive of the almost $56K “Monthly Management Charge” and other Services but not including the close to $65K + tax for parts that month.  

Further attempts to outsource engineering functions to Babcock have continued constantly. Most recently we received correspondence advising that a Mobile Maintenance Unit has commenced which we are reliably informed is outsourced to Babcock. How much more is this costing the Fire Service in both dollars and lost capability and how many Engineering Department Emergency Vehicle Technicians’ jobs? 

A recent concern arising is the AVL exercise where as a result of the Keelty Report, funding is being provided for the equipment and trials have just been completed. Disappointingly the government has reportedly not purchased the support systems necessary so yet more time has been involved in preparing a business case to secure the funds necessary. Has anyone counted these costs? 

MFS RESHUFFLE

The MFS executive reshuffle is another curious exercise which appears to be rather costly and in some ways rather inexplicable. Take for example the roles of Assistant Chief Fire Officers who are supposed to head up the various areas of activities within the MFS and ask yourself why the appointment of a non-uniformed staff member alongside the ACFOs? Or the splitting of Metro Ops because it’s now “too much” for one ACFO? Is this yet another case of the service lacking management expertise and doubling up on executive salaries? 

The Treasurer told us when we met him that he doesn’t like our Award travel allowances and, as members know, there has been a bid to reduce firefighters’allowances in EB negotiations, together with other employer claims such as an increased number of act ups. 

Our call to the Marshall government for the release of the MFS Expenditure Report they commissioned in 2019 continues to be rejected by the government with the Treasurer telling us it will not be released. 

I think we all know why that would be and it’s little wonder the Marshall government is feeling so desperate as to keep chucking mud at firies. 

However Firefighters are not alone in experiencing the smoke and mirrors treatment by the Marshall government with other public-sector employees such as Ambos’ and doctors’ unions speaking out this week about the same disgraceful tactics. 

Collectively we say it’s time for this government to put its antipathy towards unions aside and to focus on the message which emergency services workers are conveying about safety and the public good. 

However Firefighters are not alone in experiencing the smoke and mirrors treatment by the Marshall government with other public-sector employees such as Ambos’ and doctors’ unions speaking out this week about the same disgraceful tactics. 

UFUSA Resourcing Campaign

Collectively we say it’s time for this government to put its antipathy towards unions aside and to focus on the message which emergency services workers are conveying about safety and the public good. 

Playing political games with the lives of emergency services workers and of the community we serve will not be tolerated and we won’t be silenced. 

FORTHCOMING UFU ELECTIONS – ARE YOUR DETAILS UP-TO-DATE? 

Our union’s elections are scheduled to be conducted in the near future and all financial members will be eligible to vote. But of course we need to have your up-to-date details to provide to the organisation which will conduct any ballots required. If your contact details have changed please let us know by calling 8352 7211 or emailing info@ufusa.com.au The voting roll will close on 24 March 2021 so please act now to ensure you will receive any ballot papers distributed. 

ONLINE CAMPAIGN PETITION 

A reminder to members of the online Safety and Resourcing Campaign petition in response to all those who wish to support firefighters and send a direct message to the Marshall government. You can access the UFUSA petition here, or on our Facebook page (click here). 

In solidarity, 

SAFETY & RESOURCING CAMPAIGN REPORT

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